Turkey, Russia to clear N Syria of terrorists: FM Çavuşoğlu
Turkey and Russia will clear the area 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) south of Turkey's border with Syria of YPG/PKK terrorists, and security forces of the two countries will conduct joint patrols, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Nov. 1 at the 4th International Turkish-German Symposium.
Turkey had made an agreement with Russia on Oct. 22, and with this agreement, Russia accepted "the legitimacy of the Operation Peace Spring," Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said, speaking at the symposium held at Akdeniz University in Turkey's southern province Antalya.
On Oct. 9, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
On Oct. 22, Erdoğan and Putin held a meeting in Russia's Black Sea resort town of Sochi.
Ankara and Moscow reached a deal under which YPG/PKK terrorists will pull back 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) south of Turkey’s border with northern Syria within 150 hours, and security forces from Turkey and Russia will conduct joint patrols there.
Terrorists in Qamishli will also be removed, but patrol activities will not be conducted in that area, as Syrian regime forces have been there from the beginning [of the crisis], Çavuşoğlu said.
"YPG/PKK terrorists will be removed from Manbij and Tal Rifat. So, we took what we wanted with the two agreements, with the least damage.
"This would not have happened if we did not do the operation," he added.
He reminded of Turkey’s other operations in northern Syria and underlined Turkey’s efforts at the global stage, explaining the necessity of the operations in Afrin against YPG/PKK terrorists.
He accused France and Israel of aiming to establish a YPG/PKK state, saying: "We broke a big game. They have been planning to establish a YPG/PKK state. This was led by France and Israel.
"I am speaking clearly. No one has ever said, 'No, we did not make such an effort'," he said.
"Unfortunately, our friend Germany, together with France, was also among those in the UN and the European Union," he added.
Referring to the decision making process and background of the Operation Peace Spring, Çavuşoğlu said: "The U.S. did not keep its promise.
"Even during these processes, the U.S. continued to provide weapons, which were brought from Iraq, to the YPG [YPG/PKK] terrorist organization".
"They also continued to train YPG/PKK terrorists. We were patient, and in the meantime, we warned them," he added.
The U.S.-backed SDF, a group dominated by the YPG, has been controlling some 28 percent of the Syrian territories, including the most of the 911-kilometer-long Syria-Turkey border.
Turkey deems the YPG the Syrian offshoot of the illegal PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization also by the United States and the EU.
Moscow praises Russian-Turkish memorandum on Syria
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry has said that the situation in northeast Syria is "under control" thanks to the Russian-Turkish efforts.
"In the northeast of Syria, the situation was brought under control after the Russian-Turkish memorandum signed in Sochi on Oct. 22. In accordance with the agreements, the Russian military police began joint patrols with the Turks of the 10-kilometer [6.2-mile] security zone along the Syrian-Turkish border," Maria Zakharova said on Nov. 1.
Zakharova's remarks came at a news conference in Volgograd.
She added that YPG/PKK terrorists pulled back 30 kilometers [18.6 miles] south of Turkish-Syrian border.
According to her assessment, despite some clashes in several regions of the country, the Syrians have been returning to a more peaceful life.
"Since July 2017, some 450,000 Syrian refugees returned to the country, and 1,300,000 internally displaced people to their permanent places of residence," Zakharova said.
She accused the U.S. of "illegal and abusive actions" in Syria, saying Washington "smuggles" $30-million-worth Syrian oil per month.
"The modern international community cannot help but raise questions when a civilized state, which endlessly declares its commitment to certain democratic values, international legal principles in international relations, pumps oil from the fields in northeast Syria.
"Let me remind you, a sovereign state, covering its -- and this is called criminal activity -- so, covering its criminal activity with some pretexts of the fight against Daesh [Daesh/ISIS]," she added.
Zakharova reminded that according to Washington's own statement, Daesh/ISIS was destroyed in Syria in May 2019.
"The U.S. bypasses its own sanctions by smuggling the Syrian oil and it is not going to leave oil-field areas in the foreseeable future," she said.
Turning to the political aspect of the Syrian conflict, Zakharova welcomed the launch of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, saying it was possible with the efforts of Russia, Iran and Turkey.
"We consider the establishment of the Constitutional Committee and the beginning of its work with the decisive assistance of the Astana format an unconditional achievement, first of all, of the Syrian people.
We understand that the formation of the committee will not solve, in one stroke, all the accumulated problems, but it will allow all Syrian parties, namely the government, opposition and representatives of civil society, for the first time in years of the crisis, to sit down at the negotiating table to determine the future of their country, which is particularly important in the context of continued tensions in Syria," she said.