Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday hailed “a historic agreement” with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to push back Syrian Kurdish fighters from a safe zone along the border, after hours of talks between the two leaders over the conflict in Syria.
“According to this agreement, Turkey and Russia will not allow any separatist agenda on Syrian territory,” Erdogan said, addressing reporters alongside Putin after the talks in the Russian city of Sochi.
Erdogan also announced a 150-hour deadline beginning on Wednesday for Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters and their weapons to be moved back 30 kilometres from areas on the Turkish border which are currently outside the scope of the Turkish offensive.
“Within 150 hours starting at 12:00 noon on October 23, YPG terrorists and their weapons will be removed to the depth of 30 kilometres and their… positions will be destroyed,” Erdogan said.
In the areas covered by Tuesday’s deal, Russian-backed Syrian regime forces had been deployed in agreement with Kurdish forces in a bid to stem the Turkish assault.
Under a separate agreement between Turkey and the United States reached last week, Kurdish forces were expected to pull out from one central section of Turkey’s proposed “safe zone”.
That deal is due to expire at 1900 GMT on Tuesday but Syrian Kurds say they have withdrawn from the central area concerned between the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn.
In Sochi, Erdogan said that after the 150-hour deadline, Turkish and Russian joint patrols would start in two zones stretching 10 kilometres (six miles) to the east and west of the area of Turkey’s current Operation Peace Spring.
“All YPG terrorists in Tal Firat and Manbij will be removed outside this region, together with their weaponry,” he said.
Erdogan also said both countries would take necessary measures against “terrorist infiltrations” and create a “joint mechanism” to coordinate the agreement.