Russian military police conduct Syria patrol

AFP , Wednesday 23 Oct 2019

Russian military police on Wednesday conducted their first patrol in northern Syria, the defence ministry in Moscow said, under a deal with Turkey which specifies the "removal" of Kurdish forces from the border area.

"Residents of Syrian settlements greeted the Russian military police," the defence ministry said in a statement, Russian news agencies reported.

Ahead of the patrol, Russian military police met with officials from the border town of Kobane.

Earlier in the day Russian military forces crossed the Euphrates River in Syria and moved into positions near the border with Turkey.

The deal, reached between Russia and Turkey on Tuesday, will see Russian military police and Syrian border guards "facilitate the removal" of Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters and their weapons from within 30 kilometres (18 miles) of the border.

This withdrawal must be finalised within 150 hours, under the deal.

The Russian defence ministry published a map showing where 15 Syrian checkpoints would be set up along the border.

The Turkey-Russia agreement was reached after marathon talks between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Vladimir Putin in Russia on Tuesday.

It will also see Turkey preserve a "safe zone" inside Syria about 120 kilometres long (75 miles) and 32 kilometres deep. Russia and Turkey will eventually launch joint patrols along the zone.

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

Trump has been accused of betraying the Kurds and paving the way for the joint action against them.

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