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Joint Turkish-Russian Patrols Kick Off in Northeastern Syria

Joint Turkish-Russian Patrols Kick Off in Northeastern Syria

Friday, 1 November, 2019 - 12:45
Turkish army's armoured vehicles wait as Turkish and Russian military officials speak at the Turkey-Syria border near Kiziltepe, Mardin province, Turkey, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. AP

Turkey and Russia launched joint patrols on Friday in northeastern Syria, under a deal that halted a Turkish offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters who were forced to withdraw from the border area following Ankara's incursion.

The patrols were set to cover two sections, in the west and east of Turkey's operation zone in Syria, with a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles).

The deal on the patrols excludes the city of Qamishli, according to the ministry's statement on Tuesday.

Turkey's defense ministry tweeted on Friday that the patrols started in al-Darbasiyah region, with Turkish and Russian troops, armored vehicles and drones, the Associated Press (AP).

The Russian Defense Ministry said the joint patrol consists of nine military vehicles, including a Russian armored personnel carrier, and would cover a 110-kilometer (68-mile) route on Friday.

The joint patrols did not fly Russian and Turkish flags on their armored vehicles.

According to AP, the Turkey-Syria border could see the Syrian flag hoisted on a building on the Syrian side.

Last week's Sochi agreement halted a Turkish operation launched against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria in October, which left hundreds dead and prompted tens of thousands to flee their homes.

Under the deal, Turkey is to assume control over one 120 kilometre (75 mile) wide section in the centre of the border, while Syrian regime forces are to deploy to the east and west.

Turkey intends to set up a "safe zone" 30 kilometres deep, in which some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees it is hosting could be resettled, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said on Thursday the Sochi agreement was "temporary," and will eventually pave the way for his government to retake Syria's northeast.

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