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Putin, Erdogan strike deal to remove Kurdish YPG from Syria border

42 Comments
By Darya Korsunskaya and Tuvan Gumrukcu

Syrian and Russian forces will deploy in northeast Syria to remove Kurdish YPG fighters and their weapons from the border with Turkey under a deal agreed on Tuesday which both Moscow and Ankara hailed as a triumph.

Hours after the deal was announced, the Turkish defense ministry said that the United States had told Turkey the withdrawal of Kurdish militants was complete from the "safe zone" Ankara demands in northern Syria.

There was no need to initiate another operation outside the current area of operation at this stage, the ministry said in a statement, effectively ending its military offensive that had begun on Oct 9, drawing widespread criticism.

The agreement follows a U.S.-brokered truce which expired on Tuesday and underlines the dizzying changes in Syria since U.S. President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of American troops two weeks ago ahead of Turkey's cross-border offensive against the Kurds.

The Russia-Turkey agreement struck in the Black Sea resort of Sochi endorses the return of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces to the border alongside Russian troops, replacing the Americans who had patrolled the region for years with their former Kurdish allies.

Under the pact between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, the two countries said Russian military police and Syrian border guards would start removing the YPG 30 km (19 miles) from the Turkish border on Wednesday.

Six days later, Russian and Turkish forces will jointly start to patrol a narrower, 10 km strip of land in the "safe zone" that Ankara has long sought in northeast Syria.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence voiced support for the establishment of the safe zone.

"We may well give the international community an opportunity to establish a safe zone between Turkey and the Kurdish population in Syria that will ensure peace and security," Pence told a Heritage Foundation gala in Washington.

Earlier on Tuesday, Jim Jeffrey, the senior U.S. diplomat on Syria, dismissed the Sochi deal and questioned whether the Russians could get the YPG to leave the territory it covers.

"It's full of holes," he told a congressional hearing. "All I know it will stop the Turks from moving forward. Whether the Russians will ever live up to their commitment, which is very vague, to ... get the YPG out of their areas, I don't know."

After six hours of talks with Erdogan in Sochi, Putin expressed satisfaction at decisions he described as "very important, if not momentous, to resolve what is a pretty tense situation which has developed on the Syrian-Turkish border".

A senior Turkish official described it as an "excellent" deal which would achieve Turkey's long-held goal of a border strip cleared of the YPG, which Ankara regards as a terrorist organization because of its links to insurgents inside Turkey.

Last week's U.S.-brokered deal was limited to the central part of the border strip between the Syrian towns of Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain, where Turkish forces had focused their military offensive.

Under the deal with Moscow, the length of border which the YPG would be required to pull back from is more than triple the size of the territory covered by the U.S.-Turkish accord, covering most of the area Turkey had wanted to include.

"The outcome of the Putin-Erdogan meeting in Sochi today indicates that Erdogan has become a master of leveraging the U.S. and Russia against each other to maximize Ankara's gains," Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish program at the Washington Institute said in a tweet. "Turkey got the safe zone it wanted all this time."

Some 300,000 people have been displaced by Turkey's offensive and 120 civilians have been killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor. It said on Sunday 259 fighters with the Kurdish-led forces had been killed, and 196 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels. Turkey says 765 terrorists but no civilians have been killed in its offensive.

Pence received a letter from Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) commander Mazloum Kobani on Tuesday saying their forces had withdrawn "from the relevant area of operations" under that deal, Pence's spokeswoman Katie Waldman said.

However, before flying to Russia Erdogan had said hundreds of Kurdish fighters remained near to Syria's northeast border despite the truce demanding their withdrawal. Earlier he had said the fighting might resume if promises by Washington were not kept.

The U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria has been criticized by U.S. lawmakers, including some of Trump's fellow Republicans, as a betrayal of Kurdish allies who have helped the United States fight Islamic State in Syria.

Turkey sought a "safe zone" along 440 km (275 miles) of border with northeast Syria, but its assault focused on the two border towns in the centre of that strip, Ras al Ain and Tel Abyad.

Syrian and Russian forces have already entered two border cities, Manbij and Kobani, which lie within Turkey's planned"safe zone" but to the west of Turkey's military operations.

Erdogan has said he could accept the presence of Syrian troops in those areas, as long as the YPG are pushed out.

Russia is an ally of Assad. Turkey has backed rebels seeking to oust Assad during Syria's more than eight-year-long civil war but has dropped its once frequent calls for him to quit.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

42 Comments
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The fighting has stopped.

The Syrian government is moving back in, which means functioning schools, hospitals, police and other social services.

Well done.

The world is happy to see this war come to an end.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

The world is happy to see this war come to an end.

This "the world" you speak of, does that include the Kurds?

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Kurds get protection thanks to Syrian government troops and also from Russian troops.

NATO troops can’t threaten the Kurds anymore thanks to Russia.

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

Ok, and as you said, the world is happy, so are the Kurds part of this "the world" you speak of? Are they happy with this outcome?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Insurgency and then genocide will be in the result of Trump's betrayal.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Lives lost, homes raised, communities decimated, all for what? Back to business as usual, Russia will continue to poke holes in western alliances and institutions, and occasionally an American president will come along to help Russia with their malicious agenda.

With the constant white anting of western democratic institutions and its once attractive power, I do wonder how long before the entire globe becomes a playground for autocratic dictators.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Lives lost, homes raised [sic], communities decimated, all for what? Back to business as usual, Russia will continue to poke holes in western alliances and institutions, and occasionally an American president will come along to help Russia with their malicious agenda.

Ah, yes, the malicious agenda of peace.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Ah, yes, the malicious agenda of peace

Love to know where you got your rose colored glasses from. My eyes were telling me Assad, with full backing of Russian forces were attacking just about everything that move, including his own people, all to maintain his dictatorship.

Turkey is, has always been the strategic bridge between east and west, the harbinger of peace. Do you honestly think the status quo can be maintained based on current development between Russia and Turkey? And if the status quo can't be maintained, what then? Who are tge players, what will the jostling look like?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

My eyes were telling me...

Were they? Funny stuff.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Putin and Erdogan issued a joint statement that read simply:

"Thanks, Dotard!!!! XOXOXO"

One can envision the conversation going like this:

Erdogan: “It was so easy, Vlad. All I had to do was call that idiot!”

Putin: “You see? I told you so...”

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

 My eyes were telling me Assad, with full backing of Russian forces were attacking just about everything that move, including his own people, all to maintain his dictatorship.

Really,

Look at Aleppo, it used to be a rat infested Mad Max zone when the Western backed rebels ran it.

Now, civilization has returned, schools are reopening, women can walk the streets again, cafes are bustling, shops are reopening, bread, food and medicine is plentiful.

Whenever and wherever the Syrian government retakes territory, peace follows.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Whenever and wherever the Syrian government retakes territory, peace follows.

Then how did it go so bad when Syria was under full control of Assad?

You're trying to make an argument based on a fixed point in time, and ignoring sentiments (oppression, suppression, exploitation...- sentiments that strikes at the heart of humanity and its quest for freedom).

It can be very simple - give people opportunities and freedom, and you have peace. Russia, Assad, is not interested in opportunities or freedom, they are interested in ultimate power for themselves.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Were they? Funny stuff.

So you admit Assad attacking his own people with chemical weapons is funny? Or your rose colored glasses made you blind?

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Someone tell Donald Trump he can't sit on big boys table anymore. Putin, Erdogan, Xi, and Kim run the show now

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Well, are you proud Trumpers?

American troops are ridiculed and humiliated as they withdraw from Syria.

Putin and Erdogan partner and agree to a much larger staging zone - throwing out and laughing at Pence and Pompeo's deal.

Russia is now allied with both Syria, Iran and Turkey, significantly enlarging its presence and influence throughout the Middle East.

All because we have a failed reality TV star who is in the latter stages of dementia as President.

You voted for this Moron - you own it...

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Wait, are you saying he's not winning Lincolnman?

Say it ain't so.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

So you admit Assad attacking his own people with chemical weapons is funny? Or your rose colored glasses made you blind?

No. I think it's funny the way you phrased it: it sounded like you were on the ground actually witnessing the events unfolding. You were not. You were just reading the AP/Reuters propaganda written by a hack in a Beirut cafe who also didn't witness any of what he or she was writing about (but getting their "facts" from Al-Q intermediaries).

And it's been proven that Assad was actually attacking the monsters (Al Q and company) who staged these false-flag, attacks, using chemical weapons.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Lives lost, homes raised, communities decimated, all for what?

The only reason the Kurds have been occupying this region is that previous communities were decimated by the ISIS-Saudi-Israeli-US coalition and replaced by their Kurdish allies. It was an attempted land-grab, which fortunately does not seem to be working out so well.

American troops are ridiculed and humiliated as they withdraw from Syria.

The US only withdrew about 28 troops from northern Syria. I believe they still have a large presence at their base in the south.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Where's the U.S.? Where's the great negotiator? Why isn't he involved?

Oh, that's right. Trump jumps when Putin says "Jump!" and he runs when Erdogan says "Run!", especially for the dictators.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The YPG were lucky enough to live and existing!  They were just "Puppet Army", the running dogs of Uncle Sam's proxy wars in middle east and now this is what they got in the end at the end: Expulsion! The Kurds has been sacrificing two generations of sons & daugthers to fight for their Kurdish state, a dream that was naïve enough! The Kurds has no lands, no homes they were living on Arabs or Turkish soils but they were stupid enough their blood deserve to pay for such meaningless wars! So, don't be the running dogs of uncle Sam, nothing good at the end!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

American troops are ridiculed and humiliated as they withdraw from Syria

AND Iraq is saying they can't enter either, utter humiliation...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

You were not.

Neither were you, and there's no media (not even Russian) reporting your narrative. How does that make you feel better than Reuters/AP?

You arrived at this discussion with nothing more than a bias, and each step of the way you only prove that your entire backbone comprise of nothing but bias. Yet, you spoke like the conspiracies you hold are gospel.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Well, are you proud Trumpers?

I am not supporting Trump here, far from it. But to be fair, the Kurds deal was cemented originally Obama in 2014, despite designating them as a terrorist organisation previously.

Trump just doesn't have the backbone to go through with it.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

^^^ That depends which Kurdish faction you mean. The PKK was designated as a terrorist group, the YPG and wider SDF was not.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

...and there's no media (not even Russian) reporting your narrative.

You sure you want to stick with that statement? I'll give you a chance to retract it.

...you only prove that your entire backbone comprise of nothing but bias.

Metaphor abuse alert!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Russian Media Cheers Trump’s Moves in Syria: ‘Putin Won the Lottery!’

https://www.thedailybeast.com/russian-media-cheers-trump-moves-in-syria-putin-won-the-lottery

“Putin won the lottery! Russia’s unexpected triumph in the Middle East,” raved Mikhail Rostovsky in his article for the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets. “Those who were convinced of Trump’s uselessness for Russia ought to think again...What Washington got out of this strange move is completely unclear. To the contrary, what Moscow gained from this is self-evident...Trump’s mistake in Syria is the unexpected ‘lottery win’ that further strengthened Moscow’s position in the Middle East and undermined America’s prestige as a rational political player and a reliable partner.”  

Every military expert and anyone with common sense have said the same thing.

Maksim Yusin, the editor of international politics at the leading Russian business daily Kommersant, was amazed by the ongoing stream of inexplicable actions by the American president that benefit the Kremlin. “All of this benefits the Russian Federation,” Yusin marveled. “You know, I’ve been watching Trump’s behavior lately and get seditious thoughts: maybe he really is a Russian agent? He is laboring so hard to strengthen the international image of Russia in general—and Putin in particular...In this situation, Americans—to their chagrin and our enjoyment—are the only losers in this situation.”

The US president is a Russian asset!

“This is such a pleasure,” grinned Olga Skabeeva, the host of Russia’s state television program 60 Minutes. “Russian soldiers have taken an American base under our complete control, without a fight!” Skabeeva’s co-host Evgeny Popov added: “Suddenly, we have defeated everyone.” Incredulously, Skabeeva pointed out: “This is an American base—and they just ran away! Trump ran away!”

What else needs to be said?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Others are laughing at the US because of this poor excuse for a president.

“They lost their only chance to remove [Syrian President] Bashar Assad,” exclaimed Russian lawmaker Oleg Morozov, appearing on 60 Minutes, “They were only half a step away!”  

> “It’s been a long time since America has been humiliated this way,” gloated political analyst Mikhail Sinelnikov-Orishak, “They ran away in shame! I can’t recall such a scenario since Vietnam.” He added: “For us, this is of great interest, because this is a key region where energy prices are being determined. That is a shining cherry on top.” Political scientist Andrey Nikulin concurred: “This is sad for America. A smaller-scale version of what happened in Vietnam.”

It also doesn't make sense politically or economically.

Appearing on the nightly television show The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev, political analyst Evgeny Satanovsky recounted many ways in which Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria and abandon the Kurds has hurt the image and standing of the United States: “America betrayed everyone...Trump also strengthened the anti-American mood in Turkey, when he promised to destroy the Turkish economy.” Satanovsky opined that now any economic problems or currency fluctuations in Turkey can be blamed directly on the United States, prompting textile, tobacco, steel and other industries to turn away from America. “Anti-Americanism in Turkey is off the charts,” Satanovsky pointed out, “American politics are tangled in their own shoelaces... America is successfully self-eliminating from the region.”

1 ( +3 / -2 )

American troops are ridiculed and humiliated as they withdraw from Syria

No, the American troops were ridiculed when they entered Syria (and Iraq and ....) as they were naively used to do Israel's dirty work.

I suspect the attacks against Trump (impeachment, Russian collusion, ...) are because he refuses to expand the wars (e.g., against Iran).

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Kurds lost around 11,000 fighters in driving out ISIS.

No one else had the courage, Iraqis, Syrians, Russians, or even US.

After doing all that, the Kurds are getting pushed out of their homeland.

Ethnic Cleansing, that's what it is and our Good Christian Pence is find with it..........

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Lincolnman:

Well, are you proud Trumpers?

Absolutely. Clintons illegal war-mongering in Syria is coming to an end. Much as CNN and the military-industrial swamp hates it.

American troops are ridiculed and humiliated as they withdraw from Syria.

I did not see any ridicule of American troops. Americans had no business being there in the first place, and Clinton/Obamas support for the islamist headcutters would be ground for impeachment in a sane world. Without Clintons meddling, the Syrian government could have solved the ISIS issue long ago.

Can you explain to us why exactly you want to see more bloodshed in Syria?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Raw Beer:

Spot on!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Strangerland:

Ok, and as you said, the world is happy, so are the Kurds part of this "the world" you speak of? Are they happy with this outcome?

Not the radicals who wanted to create a Kurdish state unilaterally. The majority of the Kurdish population? Yes, absolutely. They are not persecuted either under Turkish or Syrian government rule, unlike under ISIS.

As for the Turkish occupation of the border area, that can and will be reversed eventually, once the US meddling stops.

But I get it..... inside the CNN echo chamber, we simply must make war, because orange man baaad.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Kurdish state was agreed to in the Provisions of the Treaty of Sèvres for an independent Kurdistan, 1920.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Absolutely. Clintons illegal war-mongering in Syria is coming to an end. Much as CNN and the military-industrial swamp hates it.

Less than the illegals wars of Bush into Iraq and Afghanistan which killed more than one million, and cost $6 trillion and led to the formation of the ISIS which moved into Syria from Iraq.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Lincolnman:

Well, are you proud Trumpers?

Absolutely. Clintons illegal war-mongering in Syria is coming to an end. Much as CNN and the military-industrial swamp hates it.

Clinton? When did she become President and Commander in Chief? Obama went into Syria to wage war on ISIS, which he did very successfully. Now Trump is cutting and running, giving ISIS a reprieve, and the ability to re-group and threaten us again. That's called losing...

American troops are ridiculed and humiliated as they withdraw from Syria.

I did not see any ridicule of American troops. Americans had no business being there in the first place, and Clinton/Obamas support for the islamist headcutters would be ground for impeachment in a sane world. Without Clintons meddling, the Syrian government could have solved the ISIS issue long ago.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/21/residents-of-syrian-city-pelt-retreating-us-troops-with-potatoes

Our troops retreating and being humiliated - all under Trump...disgusting...

Can you explain to us why exactly you want to see more bloodshed in Syria?

You don't think the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Kurds isn't bloodshed? You don't think Russia and Turkey (a NATO member) partnering is bad?

This is a nightmare and a strategic gift to Putin - which as Pelosi accurately described, is where all roads from Trump end up at....

1 ( +2 / -1 )

zichi:

Less than the illegals wars of Bush into Iraq and Afghanistan

No. Libya is a catastrophe that outweighs Iraq on many levels. But speaking of that... do I suspect that many of the CNN watchers who now scream for US military involvement in the Middle East where very much against that when Bush did it. What happened? Can you spell hypocrisy?

Lincolnman:

Clinton? When did she become President and Commander in Chief?

She was the pushing force for the Libyan disaster and also advocated no-fly zones in Syria. Obama was more reluctant. But you are right, the blame falls on both.

Obama went into Syria to wage war on ISIS, which he did very successfully. Now Trump is cutting and running, giving ISIS a reprieve,

...only in the weird world of CNN. Anybody who looks deeper than the fake media talking points knows the reality is very different. But yes, I understand... the comfort of being in an echo chamber...

and the ability to re-group and threaten us again. That's called losing...

ISIS was kept alive by US meddling. Neither Turkey nor Syria are interested in having the the Caliphate re-created.

Trump opposed the stupid foreign wars in his election platform, and is finally, belatedly, taking steps to meet his promise. Butyes, the warmongering swamp is now erupting like hive of mountain wasps. And their media sycophants spew propaganda like the one you are repeating.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

American troops are ridiculed and humiliated as they withdraw from Syria.

Who cares? Sticks and stones. They are not getting blown up and shot. Only schoolgirls worry about being ridiculed.

Putin and Erdogan partner and agree to a much larger staging zone - throwing out and laughing at Pence and Pompeo's deal.

Who cares who laughs? Again, schoolgirl worries.

Russia is now allied with both Syria, Iran and Turkey, significantly enlarging its presence and influence throughout the Middle East.

I just can't stop yawning here. Russia is friends with our old gang. So what? American has plenty of things to worry about that are more important than who Russia makes friends with.

As they say, stop worrying about what others are doing and work on yourself. That applies to the USA as a whole. And stop this Nixonian/McCarthyite Russia nonsense. It's embarrassing.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

WilliB

maybe you watch too much CNN?

No. Libya is a catastrophe that outweighs Iraq on many levels. 

That is no near true. Also the French and the British attacked Libya. The 2011 attack was by NATO.

But dial back the clock to 1986 when Reagan ordered the bombing of Libya in and operation code-named Operation El Dorado Canyon,

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Trump opposed the stupid foreign wars in his election platform, and is finally, belatedly, taking steps to meet his promise.

Trump increased the number of troops in Saudi and sent stealth fighter planes. He also increased the size of the fleet in the Gulf which how has two carriers and 20,000 sailors.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Lincolnman:

Clinton? When did she become President and Commander in Chief?

She was the pushing force for the Libyan disaster and also advocated no-fly zones in Syria. Obama was more reluctant. But you are right, the blame falls on both.

Or in other words, you were wrong.

Obama went into Syria to wage war on ISIS, which he did very successfully. Now Trump is cutting and running, giving ISIS a reprieve,

...only in the weird world of CNN. Anybody who looks deeper than the fake media talking points knows the reality is very different. But yes, I understand... the comfort of being in an echo chamber...

I'm afraid your reality is scripted in Moscow and your echo chamber speaks Russian.

and the ability to re-group and threaten us again. That's called losing...

ISIS was kept alive by US meddling. Neither Turkey nor Syria are interested in having the the Caliphate re-created.

Who cares what Syria or Turkey want - Putin is now the Kingmaker - and he wants ISIS re-strengthened so it continues to launch attacks against the West - which is what Trump's retreat accomplishes.

Trump opposed the stupid foreign wars in his election platform, and is finally, belatedly, taking steps to meet his promise. Butyes, the warmongering swamp is now erupting like hive of mountain wasps. And their media sycophants spew propaganda like the one you are repeating.

Trump is a weak coward. He runs from Syria and forces our troops who want to stay and finish the mission to retreat in humiliation. He does everything his Master Putin orders him to do - Putin's Poodle...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

American troops are ridiculed and humiliated as they withdraw from Syria.

Who cares? Sticks and stones. They are not getting blown up and shot. Only schoolgirls worry about being ridiculed.

Not sticks and stones - beheadings - that's what going to reoccur now that Donnie has cut and run...

Putin and Erdogan partner and agree to a much larger staging zone - throwing out and laughing at Pence and Pompeo's deal.

Who cares who laughs? Again, schoolgirl worries.

Have a schoolgirl fixation? Russia is now the major player and partner in Syria, Iran, and Turkey - and whatever Pence and Pompeo negotiated, it got thrown under the bus - i.e., losing.....

Russia is now allied with both Syria, Iran and Turkey, significantly enlarging its presence and influence throughout the Middle East.

I just can't stop yawning here. Russia is friends with our old gang. So what? American has plenty of things to worry about that are more important than who Russia makes friends with.

Trump University geopolitics major...

As they say, stop worrying about what others are doing and work on yourself. That applies to the USA as a whole. And stop this Nixonian/McCarthyite Russia nonsense. It's embarrassing.

The number of Trump supporters that obediently tow the Russian propaganda line is very embarrassing...and shameful...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Not sticks and stones - beheadings - that's what going to reoccur now that Donnie has cut and run...

Wrong. Not a single US soldier will be beheaded - because they will be home. If you are talking about the Syrian rebels working with Turkey, how loudly did you complain when they were beheading people in the name of Obama's war against the evil Assad?

Have a schoolgirl fixation? Russia is now the major player and partner in Syria, Iran, and Turkey - and whatever Pence and Pompeo negotiated, it got thrown under the bus - i.e., losing.....

I'll leave the fixations to you, thanks. Again you just repeated yourself, Russia has new friends - and you still haven't explained why that upsets you so much.

The number of Trump supporters that obediently tow the Russian propaganda line is very embarrassing...and shameful...

It's "toe the line" not "tow." And you still haven't offered any explanation except "Russia bad" and "Trump bad." Please explain your shame and embarrassment.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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