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Syria carved up, as regime forces enter Kurdish-held areas Open in fullscreen

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Syria carved up, as regime forces enter Kurdish-held areas

A Syrian regime soldier flies the flag on entering Tel Tamr, northern Syria [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 October, 2019

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Syrian regime forces have entered several Kurdish-held border towns in northern Syria as part of a groundbreaking deal with the Kurds to ward off the Turkish offensive.
Syrian regime troops entered parts of the northeast of the country held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Monday, as part of a groundbreaking deal brokered between the two parties to halt a Turkish offensive in the area, which began on Wednesday.

Regime forces have entered the towns of Tal Tamr, Ain Al-Issa, and Tabqa as well as multiple villages located in Hasakah and Raqqa provinces, the official Syrian regime SANA news agency reported on Monday.

The handover also included Tabqa military airport, according to the report.

The move comes a day after Kurdish authorities announced a deal with Damascus to deploy Syrian troops near the border with Turkey, in order to curb Ankara's offensive into SDF areas.

The announcement came as the US ordered the withdrawal of almost its entire ground force in Syria, a move which has drawn international condemnation.

Details of the deal were confirmed by Aldar Xelil, a senior Kurdish Syrian politician, on Sunday.

According to the deal, the regime will take over border positions from Derik to Sere Kaniye, including the town of Qamishli, and from Tel Abyad to Qamishli, according to the Rojava Information Centre.

Political administration and internal security are set to remain with the autonomous Kurdish administration.

Unconfirmed reports say the Kurds have demanded a Russian no-fly zone over the areas, however, observers argue that the regime will demand major concessions from the Kurds in return.

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said the move to withdraw 1,000 US troops came after Washington learned that Turkey was pressing further into Syria than had been expected.

Turkey's relentless assault, which has seen airstrikes, shelling and a ground incursion manned mainly by Syrian proxy fighters, has killed scores of civilians and fighters since its launch on Wednesday.

Kurdish authorities say the US has betrayed them, their once formidable ally in the fight against the Islamic State group, and left to battle against Turkish forces alone.

The massively outgunned Kurdish fighters described their deal with the Syrian regime as a necessary step to stop the assault.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said at least 26 civilians were killed on Sunday, and the UN reported that nearly 400,000 people could be forced to flee their homes.

Nearly all foreign journalists have left Syria, fearing both the violence from the offensive the regime authorities.

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Agencies contributed to this report.

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