Turkey, Russia to discuss removal of terrorists from Manbij and Ain al-Arab
Turkey and Russia will discuss the removal of the YPG from the northern Syrian towns of Manbij and Ain al-Arab during talks in the Russian city of Sochi, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Oct. 20.
“We will discuss the removal of the YPG terrorists from our borders, namely Manbij and Ain al-Arab, with the Russians,” Çavuşoğlu said in a televised interview with Kanal 7.
“We believe we can reach an agreement with them to work together in the future, just like we have before,” he stated, adding Turkey did not want to see a single YPG member left in the “safe zone” at the end of the cease-fire period.
Turkey’s counter-terrorism operation in northern Syria launched to establish a safe zone was very “strategic,” “important” and “timely” not only for Turkey, but also for Syria and the stability and security of the region, Çavuşoğlu noted.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is due to hold talks on Oct. 22 with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in Sochi after his deal with Washington on the withdrawal of the YPG 20 miles from the Turkish border in a 120-hour pause of the operation that will end at night on Oct. 22.
Speaking at an event in the central Turkish province of Kayseri on Oct. 19, the president said he would discuss Syrian army deployment in northern Syria with Putin, saying the two needed to find a solution to the matter.
“In certain parts of our operation area, [Syrian] regime forces under Russian protection are situated. We will discuss this issue with Mr. Putin. We need to find a solution,” he said.
“But the same is valid there too. If it works, it works. If not, then we will continue to implement our plans,” he said.
If the YPG group does not fully withdraw by Oct. 22 evening - as agreed in the cease-fire - “we will start where we left off and continue to crush the terrorists’ heads,” Erdoğan said
“If the promises that were made to us are not kept, we will not wait as we did before and we will continue the operation where it left off once the time we set has run out,” he said.
Ankara regards the YPG, the main component of the SDF, as a terrorist group because of its links to the illegal PKK group.
On Oct. 9, Turkey had launched “Operation Peace Spring” to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
On Oct. 17, the U.S. and Turkey agreed to pause its operation for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of the YPG from the planned safe zone.