Turkey, Russia agree on northern Syria terror-free zone

Tue 22 Oct 2019 18:36 GMT | 22:36 Local Time

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"We had very productive meetings with our Russian counterparts in Sochi today and reached an excellent agreement," a senior Turkish official speaking on condition of anonymity told Daily Sabah late Tuesday, APA reports.

"Ankara and Moscow agreed to set up a terror-free safe zone," he added.

In a joint press conference with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow understands Turkey's concerns about terrorism on its southern border. "We share those concerns; those separatist movements were recently instigated," Putin said.

"It is important that terrorists do not take advantage of the Turkish military operation Operation Peace Spring in Syria."

Erdoğan began his words by saying that Turkey will continue to work harder to address Russians'' concerns about the situation in northern Syria. "Our Operation Peace Spring is being carried out to eliminate terrorists from the region; we are not eyeing any country's territory," Erdoğan said.

"Turkey and Russia have agreed not to allow any separatist movements in Syria. As of October 23, 12:00 pm, YPG terrorists and their ammunition will be taken out of the terror-free zone and their positions will be dismantled."

"YPG will retreat back 30 kilometers into Syrian territory within 150 hours, then Turkish-Russian joint patrols will be launched in the area at 10 kilometer depth," he said.

"YPG terrorists in Tal Rifaat and Manbij will leave the area," Erdoğan also added referring to the northwestern Syrian towns currently held by YPG terrorists.

Here the points agreed by Turkish and Russian delegations regarding northern Syria safe zone in Sochi summit and read out by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu:

Memorandum of Understanding Between Turkey and the Russian Federation (Sochi, October 22, 2019)

President of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin agreed on the following points:

1. The two sides reiterate their commitment to the preservation of the political unity and territorial integrity of Syria and the protection of national security of Turkey.

2. They emphasize their determination to combat terrorism in all forms and manifestations and to disrupt separatist agendas in the Syrian territory.

3. In this framework, the established status quo in the current Operation Peace Spring area covering Tel Abyad and Ras Al Ayn with a depth of 32 km will be preserved.

4. Both sides reaffirm the importance of the Adana Agreement. The Russian Federation will facilitate the implementation of the Adana Agreement in the current circumstances.

5. Starting 12.00 noon of October 23, 2019, Russian military police and Syrian border guards will enter the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border, outside the area of Operation Peace Spring, to facilitate the removal of YPG elements and their weapons to the depth of 30 km from the Turkish-Syrian border, which should be finalized in 150 hours. At that moment, joint Russian-Turkish patrols will start in the west and the east of the area of Operation Peace Spring with a depth of 10 km, except Qamishli city.

6. All YPG elements and their weapons will be removed from Manbij and Tal Rifaat.

7. Both sides will take necessary measures to prevent infiltrations of terrorist elements.

8. Joint efforts will be launched to facilitate the return of refugees in a safe and voluntary manner.

9. A joint monitoring and verification mechanism will be established to oversee and coordinate the implementation of this memorandum.

10. The two sides will continue to work to find a lasting political solution to the Syrian conflict within Astana Mechanism and will support the activity of the Constitutional Committee.

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