Moscow, Oct 23: Russia and Turkey reached a deal under which Russian troops and President Bashar al-Assad’s forces will be deployed to northeastern Syria and Erdogan’s operation will continue between towns of Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn ( 32km) inside Syrian territory.
Thus Putin has emerged as a prime power broker in the Middle East as US influence in the region wanes. Erdogan has got more than three times the size of the territory covered by the US-Turkish accord, covering most of the area Turkey had wanted to include.
Russian President Vladimir Putin held seven-hour long talks with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Black sea resort of Sochi, Russia as the US- brokered ceasefire was set to expire on Tuesday night.
The Kurdish fighters have to vacate 32 kilometers deep between the Syrian border towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn.
While Turkey’s operation ‘Peace Spring’ will continue in a limited area, Russian military police and Syrian border guards would start removing the YPG from the Turkish border on Wednesday.
The Kurdish YPG of the multi-ethnic Syrian democratic forces (SDF) has 150 hours to withdraw, a joint statement said, and then Turkish and Russian soldiers will begin joint patrols of the entire border area to a depth of 10km with the exception of the de-facto Kurdish capital, Qamishli. The deal also includes the contested strategic Manbij as well as the Kurdish town Kobane.
Moscow understands the reasons behind the ongoing Turkish military incursion into Syria, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said, though he stressed that the territorial integrity of Syria must be preserved.
Turkey’s demand to create a “safe zone” extending more than 400 kilometers (250 miles) along the border, from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border to resettle about 2 million of the roughly 3.6 million Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey.
Deal also mentions Adana accord
Reiterating the importance of the 1998 Adana accord, a security pact between Syria and Turkey, Putin and Erdogan mentioned that among other things it allows the Turkish military to carry out cross-border operations in Syria, while Damascus promised not to harbor members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara considers a terrorist organization.
Reiterating Moscow’s long-time position, Putin said the country must be freed from all “illegal foreign military presence.”
Putin expressed satisfaction after reaching a deal to resolve the tense “Syrian-Turkish border”.
“The outcome of the Putin-Erdogan meeting in Sochi today indicates that Erdogan has become a master of leveraging the US and Russia against each other to maximize Ankara’s gains,” Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish program at the Washington Institute said in a tweet
“Turkey got the safe zone it wanted all this time.”
YPG, which Ankara regards as a terrorist organisation because of its links to insurgents inside Turkey.
The chain of developments triggered by Donald Trump’s 6 October announcement of US troops pullout from Kurdish-controlled north-east Syria has left Moscow the most powerful player in Middle East while Syria finding itself in a more complicated situation.