Turkey, Russia launch first patrols in northern Syria
Turkish and Russian troops on Nov. 1 launched their first joint patrol in northwest Syria, as part of a deal that halted a Turkish offensive against the YPG.
“First Turkish-Russian joint patrols with the ground and air units are underway east of Ad Darbasiyah in northeast Syria as agreed between Turkish and Russian presidents in Sochi on 22 October,” the Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The 110-km joint patrol with the Russian military police, consisting of nine military vehicles, was starting at Darbasiya and traveling west along the border, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
The patrols are part of a deal reached between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for the withdrawal of the YPG members within 150 hours, which is already finalized, from almost the entire northeastern border of Syria, from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border.
Russia and the Syrian regime’s forces moved in to ensure that the YPG pulled back 30 kilometers (about 20 miles) from the border. Moscow later informed Ankara that the pullout was finalized.
But on Oct. 30, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey had information that the YPG, which Ankara sees as a terrorist group because of its ties to the PKK, had not completed its pullout.
After the finalization of the withdrawal, joint Turkish-Russian patrols would begin a 10-kilometer- wide strip (roughly 6 miles) of the border, according to the memorandum.
The only exception for the joint patrol will be the Qamishli town at the far eastern end of the border.
Russian military police carried out their first patrol in northern Syria on Oct. 23. On Oct. 25, Russia has sent hundreds of additional troops to Syria to help patrol.
Turkey launched “Operation Peace Spring” on Oct. 9 to eliminate terror groups from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Ankara and the U.S. have agreed on a 20-mile (32-kilometer) safe zone south of the Turkish border in Syria, where Turkey wants to accommodate more than 3 million refugees it is currently hosting.
“In Tal Abyad, a handmade explosive manufacturing plant belonging to PKK / YPG terrorists was identified and made unusable,” Defense Ministry Press and Public Relations Consultancy Promotion Officer Colonel Olcay Denizer said at a press briefing on Nov. 1.
In addition, one ton of ammonium nitrate used for making explosives was recovered, he added.
Denizer said more than 400 mines and hand-made explosives and a bomb-loaded vehicle have been neutralized, many light weapons and ammunition, hand grenades, mortars and mortars, and one with guided antitank were seized, he said.
Additionally, 74 rockets routed to Turkey and that were connected in series have been identified. The kilometers of tunnels built in residential areas, covering the city like a network, were identified and made unusable by filling them with concrete, said the officer.
Meanwhile Turkish and Russian military chiefs had a phone call to discuss latest development in northern Syria, the Turkish army said on Nov. 1.
Turkey's Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler and his Russian counterpart Gen. Valery Gerasimov also exchanged views on daily developments in Syria, the Turkish Armed Forces said on Twitter.
The phone conversation came ahead of the first joint ground patrol of Turkey and Russia in northern Syria.