Turkey Signals It's Holding Back on Resuming Syria Push

Turkey Signals It's Holding Back on Resuming Syria Push

Turkey Signals It's Holding Back on Resuming Syria Push

On October 23, Russian Federation and Turkey reached an agreement to give 150 hours to the Kurdish-led People's Protection Units (YPG) to withdraw from a 30-km zone along the Syria-Turkey border.

Erdogan also announced a 150-hour deadline beginning on Wednesday for Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters and their weapons to be moved back 30 kilometers from areas on the Turkish border which are now outside the scope of the Turkish offensive. The cease-fire was meant to allow for the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from the area, a pullout demanded by Erdogan.

Under the deal, Syrian border guards were to deploy there from noon (0900 GMT) on Wednesday.

Turkey's communications director, Fahrettin Altun, said just before the cease-fire expired that the fighters had not fully left.

Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin reached an agreement Tuesday that would transform the map of northeast Syria, installing their forces along the border and filling the void left by the abrupt withdrawal of American troops.

According to the deal, Ankara and Moscow agreed on preservation of Syria's territorial integrity and political unity.

Turkish-backed fighters entered Syria after Trump abruptly announced on October 6 that the US troops would be pulling its troops from the region.

Turkey's military says the U.S. has told it that all Kurdish fighters have now left that area. The situation settled down after talks between Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, as they struck a deal, returning control of the border to Syria and establishing joint patrols to avoid confrontations.

It will also see Turkey preserve a "safe zone" inside Syria about 120 kilometres long (75 miles) and 32 kilometres deep. -Turkish accord, covering most of the area Turkey had wanted to include. Elements of the Kurdish YPG militia will then be removed from the strategic towns of Manbij and Tal Rifat. They have not yet confirmed if they will adhere to the Russian-Turkish agreement to pull back further. That decision - and the subsequent violence that followed - drew bipartisan condemnation from US lawmakers.

It wasn't immediately clear how U.S. forces would fit into the deal, as the Pentagon and Trump allies have worked to convince the skeptical president to leave a residual American troop presence in the country to fight the Islamic State (IS).

On Monday, Mr Trump said it appeared that the five-day pause was holding despite skirmishes and that it could possibly go beyond the expiry time, but Mr Erdogan said the fighting may resume. "The process will not end before they are out".

The deal was widely perceived as good news for Ankara and a poor result for Syria's Kurdish forces, building as it does on the US' agreement last week that Turkey has a right to a buffer zone on its border at their expense.

Commenting on European countries' initiatives concerning talks on Syria, the Turkish president pointed out that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had suggested he take part in a quadrilateral meeting that would also involve German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

"Difference: key player now Moscow not Washington", he wrote on Twitter. Putin responded by saying that he would not let that happen, Erdogan said. Bottom line: "Fate of historic Kurd areas (Kobani) now entirely in hands of Assad/Russia".

After the Iraqi statement, Esper said he would speak to the Iraqi defense minister on Wednesday and underlined that the USA has no plans to keep the troops in Iraq "interminably" and intends to "eventually get them home".

Seeking protection after being abandoned by the Americans, the Kurds turned to the Syrian government and its main ally, Russia.

Just two weeks after Trump pulled out US special forces, allowing Turkish troops to sweep into northeast Syria and target Washington's former Kurdish allies, Russia's police deployment shows how swiftly the balance of power in the area has shifted.

Meanwhile, Iraq also appears to be balking at an expanded United States military presence, as more American troops have left the country this week. Kurds have feared a Turkish takeover would not only crush their self-rule but cause massive demographic change, as Kurdish civilians flee and mainly Arab Syrian refugees move in.

Russian Federation sent a new signal to Turkey about the need to negotiate directly with Assad. Without such negotiations the final agreement on northeast Syria is impossible.

Now that territory is set to be handed over to USA rivals. Russian air power helped turn the tide of the battle in Syria. Much of Syria and its major population centers are now firmly in government control.

Assad himself has repeatedly vowed to reunite his entire country under Damascus's rule.

McDonnell reported from Irbil and Wilkinson from Washington.

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