Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria have started to leave several positions along Syrian-Turkish border on Thursday, October 24, complying with a deal that sees Damascus, Ankara and Moscow carve up their now-defunct autonomous region.
The Kurds have already vacated a 120-kilometre segment of the border strip – an Arab-majority area between the towns of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad, reported AFP.
Russian and Syrian government forces have been deployed across the Kurdish heartland to assist “the removal of YPG elements and their weapons”.
Russian forces have started patrolling along the flashpoint frontier, filling the vacuum left by a US troop withdrawal that effectively returned a third of the country to the Moscow-backed regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
The SDF withdrawal from that area came after Turkey and its Syrian proxies launched their deadly cross-border offensive on October 9.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is embattled on the domestic political front, hopes to use the pocket to resettle at least half of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees his country hosts.
Under the Sochi deal, the area will remain under the full control of Turkey, unlike the rest of the projected buffer zone which will eventually be jointly patrolled by Turkey and Russia.
Some 300,000 people have fled their homes since the start of the Turkish offensive and many Kurds among them seem unlikely to return. (Source: CNA/AFP)