Turkey, Russia start third joint patrols in northern Syria
Turkish and Russian troops have started their third joint ground patrols east of Euphrates as part of the Sochi deal on northern Syria, between Qamishli and Derik cities, according to Turkey’s Defense Ministry on Nov. 8.
“Within the framework of the agreement reached with the Russian Federation in Sochi on October 22, 2019; the third joint land patrol began with the participation of Turkish and Russian military elements and UAVs in the Qamishli-Derik region in the east of the Euphrates,” the ministry said on Twitter.
The joint patrol of Turkey and Russia takes place in northern Syria at 40 kilometers east of Ras al-Ayn and 30 km west of Qamishli city. Turkey and Russia military personnel completed the first and second joint ground patrol on Nov. 1 and Nov. 5, which both lasted for four hours. The first one was carried out in the east of Ad Darbasiyah, while the second joint patrol was carried out in the east of Ayn al-Arab and west of Tal Abyad districts.
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.
After the finalization of the withdrawal, joint Turkish-Russian patrols began in a 10-kilometer-wide strip (roughly 6 miles) of the border, according to the memorandum.
The joint patrols aim to monitor the withdrawal of the YPG from the agreed areas.
The only exception for the joint patrol will be the Qamishli town at the far eastern end of the border.
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.
However, Turkey is critical of Russia and the U.S. for not fully implementing the deals on the argument that YPG members are still present in these zones and even attacking the Turkish positions and the rebel Syrian National Army.
Ankara sees the YPG as the Syrian offshoot of the illegal PKK.