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'Syria Kurds pulling out from entire length of Turkey border'

By AFP - Oct 27,2019 - Last updated at Oct 27,2019

Turkey-backed Syrian fighters gesture as they travel along the border between Syria and Turkey, near the border town of Ras Al Ain in the Hassakeh province in northeastern Syria, on Sunday (AFP photo)

SANJAK SAADOUN, Syria — Kurdish forces said Sunday they will redeploy away from the entire length of Syria's northern border in compliance with a Russian-Turkish agreement that will see them replaced by Damascus-backed forces.

The Kurd-led Syrian Democratic Forces "is redeploying to new positions away from the Turkish-Syrian border" in accordance with the deal signed in Sochi last week, they said in a statement. 

"Syrian border guards affiliated with the central government will deploy along the entire length of Syria's border with Turkey," the statement added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor has said Kurdish-led SDF started pulling out of some areas at the eastern end of the border on Thursday.

On Sunday, an SDF spokesman said Kurdish fighters were withdrawing from border positions. 

Mustefa Bali said they will redeploy to positions around 30 kilometres away from the frontier. 

On Sunday, an AFP correspondent in the Sanjak Saadoun border area near the northern Syrian town of Amuda saw SDF military vehicles carrying personnel and heavy artillery heading south.

The convoy was travelling on a road that connects Amuda to the city of Hasakeh, where Kurdish fighters are present. 

Syrian state television said that 45 vehicles withdrew from Sanjak Saadoun.

The Damascus government welcomed the pullout which it said is being carried out in coordination with the Syrian army, state news agency SANA reported Sunday quoting a foreign ministry statement.

Earlier this week Russia and Turkey signed a deal that will see Russian military police and Syrian border guards “facilitate the removal” of Kurdish People’s Protection Units, which form the backbone of the SDF, from within 30 kilometres of the border.

The Turkey-Russia agreement was reached after marathon talks between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday. 

Russian military police conducted the first patrols on Wednesday.

The deal follows the decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw US troops who were allied with Kurdish forces that bore the brunt of the fight against the Daesh extremist group in Syria.

In a statement on Sunday, the SDF said it had accepted the deal.

“After extensive discussions with the Russian Federation on our previous objection to some terms of the memorandum, we agreed to the implementation of the deal,” it said.

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