Elias Hubbard It hands a 120-kilometer-long (70-mile-long) stretch of border land including Tal Abyad over to Turkey, and provides for joint Russian-Turkish patrols along other parts of the frontier – the first of which started on Friday.
A vehicle bomb killed at least 13 people in a Turkish-held border town in northeast Syria Saturday, as thousands of Kurds in the wider region protested against “Turkish occupation”. However, a spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the US-backed group dominated by the YPG, on Twitter blamed Turkish-backed forces for the explosions. Turkish troops seized the town after they launched a military offensive against Kurdish forces last month and forced them to withdraw from the border area. Turkey intends to set up a “safe zone” 30 kilometres deep, in which some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees it is hosting could be resettled. On Wednesday, President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey had information that the YPG had not completed its pullout from the border region. The ministry blamed Syrian Kurdish fighters for the attack, saying it harshly condemns it and called on the global community to take a stance against this “cruel terror organization”. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. President Bashar al-Assad said on Thursday the Sochi agreement was “temporary”, and will eventually pave the way for his government to retake Syria’s northeast. UN Syria envoy Geir Pedersen on Friday voiced hope over talks in Geneva between the Syrian government, opposition and civil society. Almost 30 USA soldiers were also seen in the convoy heading to Jazira base. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, reported that USA troops were setting up a post near the northern border city of Qamishli that is part of the Russia-Turkey agreement. Ankara views Syrian Kurdish fighters as “terrorists”, and wants to expel them from areas along its southern border. “We harshly condemn the inhumane attack of the bloody PKK/YPG terrorists who carried out a bomb attack against the innocent civilians of Tal Abyad who could return to their homes and lands as a result of Operation Peace Spring and we call on all countries to take a stand against this brutal terror group”, the National Defense Ministry said in a written statement. The SDF said it’s deploying the Syriac Military Council and Assyrian fighters in the Khabur river region. Trump last month said a “small number” of USA troops would stay to “secure the oil”.