President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey reached a “historic” agreement with Russia that would remove Syrian Kurdish militants from a strip of border territory extending along the length of northeast Syria.
Speaking alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin after a 6-hour meeting in Sochi, Erdogan said Russian forces would help evict the so-called YPG fighters from areas outside the 120-km corridor where Turkish forces are operating. Turkey considers the militia a threat due to its links to separatist Kurds on its own territory.
The YPG, which fought for years alongside U.S. forces to defeat Islamic State before President Donald Trump ordered an American withdrawal, say they pose no threat to Turkey and only want to safeguard Syria’s Kurds.
Below are highlights from Erdogan’s remarks during the joint press conference on Tuesday:
- Russia and Turkey agreed that all YPG members would pull back from a 30-kilometer-deep stretch along the entire Syrian border within 150 hours starting from 12 p.m. on Oct. 23, Turkish local time
- The deal with Russia covers areas outside the 120-km zone between the Syrian border towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn that’s covered by a truce deal negotiated by the U.S. last week
- The YPG and all their weapons will be removed from the area
- Syrian border patrols will help Russian forces to clear the area of Kurdish militants, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
- Kurdish militants will also be removed from Manbij, a strategic Syrian town which U.S.-led coalition forces recently left.
- “We’ve signed a historic memorandum with Putin for the territorial and political integrity of Syria and the return of refugees. Turkey and Russia will not allow any separatist agenda on the Syrian soil”
- “Both countries will take measures against infiltrations by the terrorists. A joint mechanism will be set up to monitor the implementation of the memorandum”
- “At the end of the 150th hour, Turkey and Russian patrols will cover an area as deep as 10 kilometers in the east and west of the Operation Peace Spring area”