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Turkey may launch operation in Syria if Kurdish forces fail to leave border area — Erdogan

Turkey and Russia will begin joint patrolling in Syria on Friday, according to the Turkish president
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
© Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool

MOSCOW, October 30. /TASS/. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday his country could launch an operation in Syria if Kurdish forces failed to withdraw 30 km from the Turkish border, the Anadolu Agency reported.

"We reserve the right to resume military operation in Syria if terrorists approach at the distance of 30 km to Turkey’s borders or continue attacks from any other Syrian area," the Turkish leader said.

Erdogan also noted that Ankara could expand the safe zone it has been creating in northeastern Syria if needed. He pledged that the Turkish forces would strongly counter any shellings and attacks in the operation’s zone.

Joint patrolling

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated on Wednesday that Turkey and Russia would begin joint patrolling in northeastern Syria on Friday, the AFP agency informed.

"On Friday, we will begin the joint field operation with the Russians. In other words, we will begin patrolling," the Turkish leader said.

Earlier, Reuters informed that the patrolling would take place to the depth of 7 km away from the border.

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 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey would resettle. Ankara’s incursion into Syria has triggered an outcry in the region and across the world. The Syrian SANA news agency branded the operation as an act of aggression, while the international community condemned Erdogan’s military operation.

On October 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum on joint actions in northeastern Syria. According to the document, as of noon October 23, Russian military police and Syrian border guards started to monitor the withdrawal of Kurdish military formations to the depth of 30 km from the border. On Tuesday, October 29, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Kurdish forces had completed their pullout from the safe area in northeastern Syria under the Sochi agreement ahead of schedule. Russia and Turkey are to begin the joint patrolling of the area. On the outcomes of the agreement, Ankara stated that it had suspended its large-scale military operation in the area. However, Turkey retains control over the territories where it plans to relocate Syrian refugees in the future.

The deadline for the Kurdish forces to withdraw expired on October 29, 18:00 local time.