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Turkey and Russia begin joint patrols on northern Syria border

Turkish and Russian forces on Friday, November 1 began joint patrols near the Syria-Turkey border under a deal agreed in Sochi for the border area.

The first joint patrol with ground units and drones began on Friday in the Darbasiyah district of Hasakah governorate, the Turkish Ministry of National Defence tweeted along with photos of the patrol.

The patrols were set to begin earlier this week but were delayed.

After marathon talks between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi on October 22, Russia and Turkey signed a deal that would see Russian military police and Syrian border guards “facilitate the removal” of Syrian Democratic Forces from border areas.

On October 9, NATO-member Turkey and its Syrian proxy forces launched the Operation Peace Spring incursion into Syria to push the SDF and its predominantly-Kurdish YPG component south after U.S. President Donald Trump said American troops would withdraw from the immediate area.

Ankara wants to clear a 30-km buffer zone to resettle up to two million Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey.

Backed by the U.S.-led Coalition, the SDF fought the ground war against ISIS in north and east Syria. Turkey considers the YPG to be a terrorist organization inextricably linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey.

SDF General Command on Sunday said that they had “agreed to the implementation of the deal,” saying that SDF units would redeploy “to new positions away from the Turkish-Syrian border … to stop the bloodshed and to protect the inhabitants of the region from Turkish attacks.”

Under the Memorandum of Understanding between Turkey and Russia, “YPG” fighters must leave a 30-km area along the entire length of the Syria-Turkey border. That will be followed by joint Russian-Turkish patrols to a depth of 10 km.

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