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Syria Kurds say fully complied with Turkey truce deal

By AFP - Oct 22,2019 - Last updated at Oct 22,2019

This handout photo released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency on Monday shows Syrian Arab Army units deploying in the northern city of Manbij, near the Turkish border (AFP photo)

QAMISHLI, Syria — Syria's Kurds have withdrawn all their forces from a strip of land bordering Turkey in compliance with a US-brokered truce deal to stem a Turkish assault, a top Kurdish official said Tuesday.

"We have fully complied with the conditions of the ceasefire agreement," Redur Khalil told AFP just hours before a deadline.

"We have withdrawn all our military and security forces from the area of military operations from Ras Al Ain in the east to Tall Abyad in the west," he said.

Turkey and its Syrian proxies on October 9 launched a cross-border attack against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria after an announced US military pullout.

Turkey wants to set up a buffer zone on Syrian soil along the length of its southern frontier, to keep Kurdish forces it views as "terrorists" at bay.

A US-brokered truce agreement announced on Thursday requires Kurdish forces to withdraw from the area by late Tuesday.

"We have renewed the separation lines between us and the Turks east of Ras Al Ain on one side and west of Tall Abyad on the other," Khalil said.

A US official said earlier that the head of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces had also told Washington his forces had fully withdrawn.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hailed “a historic agreement” with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin 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 the Turkish border.

“Within 150 hours starting at 1200 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.

He added that after the deadline, Turkish and Russian joint patrols would start in two zones stretching 10 km 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.President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday said the Syrian army would support Kurdish fighters in the northeast of the war-torn country against Turkish soldiers and their proxies.

“We are prepared to support any group carrying out popular resistance against the Turkish aggression,” he said in a video shared by the presidency.

“This is not a political decision... We are not taking any political decisions now,” he told Syrian troops on the frontline in the province of Idlib.

“It is a constitutional duty and a national duty,” he said.

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