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Kurdish fighters not withdrawn from northeastern Syria, Erdogan says

According to Erdogan, the terrorists continued attacks on the Turkish-backed militants from the so-called Free Syrian Army

ANKARA, November 7. /TASS/. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units, which Ankara branded as terrorists, have not withdrawn their fighters from northeastern Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a news conference in Ankara on Thursday.

"On the one hand, we held talks with [the US] which resulted in giving the terrorists 120 hours to leave, but these [agreements] have not been fulfilled. Under our deal with Russia, they were given 150 hours, but the terrorists have not left these territories [in Syria]," the Turkish leader said.

According to Erdogan, the terrorists continued attacks on the Turkish-backed militants from the so-called Free Syrian Army. On Thursday morning, 11 members of the Free Syrian Army were killed in an offensive, the president said.

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 17, the US reached a deal with Turkey to pause Operation Peace Spring. Turkey consented to a 120-hour ceasefire so that Kurdish units making up the coalition of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) could leave the areas of the border security zone that Ankara is attempting to create. The ceasefire ran out on October 22.

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 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.

On October 29, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu declared that Kurdish forces had completed their pullout from the safe area in northeastern Syria under the Sochi agreement ahead of schedule. On November 1, the Russian and Turkish military conducted their first joint patrol mission to the east of the Euphrates.