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  • According to the SDF, withdrawal of its forces eliminates the main pretext for Turkish aggression on Syrian territory.

    According to the SDF, withdrawal of its forces eliminates the main pretext for Turkish aggression on Syrian territory. | Photo: Reuters

Published 27 October 2019

Syrian Kurdish Forces also specified that Turkey should end the cross-border "aggression" initiated on Oct. 9 in northeastern Syria.

The Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said Sunday that they had agreed to withdraw more than 30 kilometers from the Turkish border, an announcement welcomed by Damascus which said Turkey should now end its “aggression” in northeast Syria.

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"The Self-Defense Forces are relocating to new positions far from the Syrian-Turkish border across northeastern Syria in order to stop the bloodshed and protect the inhabitants of the region from Turkish attacks," the statement said.

The announcement also specified that Turkey should end the cross-border "aggression" initiated on Oct. 9 in northeastern Syria after United States troops withdrew from the area, and urged Russia to help ensure a "constructive dialogue" between the Kurdish-led administration in northeast Syria and the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.

Moscow is Assad's closest ally and Russian military power has proved decisive in helping him change the course of the eight-year Syrian civil war and recover large tracts of territory.

Damascus's response was positive as another statement was released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying that the Syrian government welcomes the withdrawal of the SDF, which eliminates "the main pretext for flagrant Turkish aggression on Syrian territory."

On the other hand, under the Erdogan-Putin agreement, signed in the Russian town of Sochi, Turkish and Russian forces, starting on Tuesday, will begin patrolling a section of the Syrian-Turkish border extending 10 kilometers deep into Syria.

The Sochi agreement also allows Assad's forces to return to parts of the northern border with Turkey for the first time in years.

In addition, the Turkish president said his country wouldn’t hesitate to intervene again and expel YPG forces from the border area if Russia failed to meet its obligations under the Sochi agreement.

The YPG is the main component of the Self-Defense Forces and is considered by Ankara as a terrorist group because of its links with Kurdish insurgents in southeastern Turkey, however, the SDF has been a key U.S. ally in the fight against militants of the Islamic state.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump said last week the brokered ceasefire in northern Syria is now permanent and lifted sanctions on Turkey as a result, rejecting criticism of his decision to pull out U.S. troops that allowed Kurdish allies to come under attack.

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