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Turkey, Russia Hold Talks over Kurdish YPG in Northeast Syria

Turkey, Russia Hold Talks over Kurdish YPG in Northeast Syria

Thursday, 21 November, 2019 - 10:00
FILE PHOTO: Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar arrives for a bilateral meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (not pictured) as part of a NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium October 25, 2019. Virginia Mayo/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Turkey is discussing with Russia how to address the continued presence of Kurdish YPG in areas covered by an agreement between the two countries, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Thursday.

Ankara halted its incursion against the YPG last month after agreeing with Moscow for the YPG to pull out of a swathe of land east of the Euphrates river, as well as the towns of Tel Rifat and Manbij, west of the river.

Turkey has complained that the withdrawal has not been completed, and threatened to resume its offensive, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that it was almost done, and added that Ankara had assured Moscow that it did not plan to launch a new military operation.

Akar said that Russia told Turkey on Oct. 29 that 34,000 militants and more than 3,200 heavy weapons were removed from a 30-km deep strip of land in Syria on the Turkish border.

“Findings to the contrary are being discussed with the Russian Federation,” Akar told a parliamentary commission.

Akar said Turkey had determined that the YPG was still present in the Manbij region “wearing the clothes of the (Syrian government) regime elements”, and had asked Russia to address the issue.

Talks with Russia on increasing patrols in Tel Rifat were ongoing, he noted.

According to Reuters, Akar said on Thursday that a permanent ceasefire could be established in Idlib when government forces withdraw behind the lines previously agreed with Russia.

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