TASS, October 27. The Syrian Democratic Forces coalition, led by the Kurdish militias, has fully supported the terms of a deal that Russia and Turkey reached in Sochi, and has started withdrawing forces from the Syrian-Turkish border, Firat News Agency has reported.
The SDF coalition said in a statement that it "agrees to implement the Russian initiative" on halting the Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria. The decision was made after intensive consultations with Russia, it noted.
The statement says that the SDF has called on Russia to "meet its commitments and ensure constructive dialogue between the Syrian Kurds and the central government in Damascus."
News broke almost simultaneously with the coalition’s statement that the Kurdish militias started withdrawing their forces from the positions located in direct proximity to the Syrian-Turkish border. Under the Sochi deal, these Kurdish units are to be pulled back from the border between the two countries at the distance of 32 km.
On October 9, Turkey launched a military incursion into northern Syria, codenaming it Operation Peace Spring, with the Turkish Armed Forces and the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army carrying it out. Erdogan’s military campaign kicked off with airstrikes on the positions of the previously US-backed Kurdish units. The Erdogan government claimed that its goal is to clear the border area of what it calls ‘terrorists’ (Turkey’s broad label of the Kurdish forces) and establish a 30 km-long buffer zone in Syria’s north, where over Syrian refugees in Turkey would resettle. According to various estimates, currently there are about 3.6 to 4 million refugees in Turkey.
On October 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum at a summit in Sochi on joint efforts in northeastern Syria. Ankara declared its operation de facto suspended. Nevertheless, Turkey holds control of vast swathes where Ankara plans to resettle the refugees.