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Erdogan says joint Turkey-Russia Syria patrols to begin this week

Turkey and allied Syrian fighters now control a portion of the previously Kurdish-held border zone.[Getty]

Date of publication: 30 October, 2019

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The joint troop deployment is part of an agreement reached in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi last week after Turkey's cross-border offensive into Syria.

Russian and Turkish forces will begin joint patrols in northern Syria on Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told parliament in a televised speech.

"We will start the joint work on the ground on Friday, namely we are starting the joint patrols," Erdogan said on Wednesday.

The Turkish-Russian deployment is part of an agreement reached in the Black Sea resort of Sochi last week after Turkey's cross-border offensive into Syria.

Under the deal, Kurdish militia forces that previously dominated northern Syria were given a 150-hour deadline, which expired at 1500 GMT Tuesday, to leave the area.

Erdogan said Russian authorities informed Ankara that some 34,000 members of the "terror group" have withdrawn - together with 3,260 pieces of heavy weaponry - from a zone running 30 kilometres from the Turkish-Syrian border.

"The data we have points to the fact that this wasn't fully achieved," Erdogan said, referring to the Russian assurances.

"We will give the necessary response after we carry out work in the field," Erdogan added.

Read more: Syria Weekly: Trump U-turn could see US troops guarding Syrian oil fields

He again stressed that Turkey "reserves the right to carry out its own operation" if it identifies any Kurdish militia in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) or its forces come under attack.

Turkey and allied Syrian fighters now control a portion of the previously Kurdish-held border zone, encompassing the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras Al-Ayn, as Russian and Syrian regime troops moved into the rest of the Kurdish-held areas following a deal with the the SDF.

Erdogan said Kurdish-held Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, must also be "brought under our control.

Turkey invaded northeastern Syria earlier this month to push Syrian Kurdish fighters from the area. Ankara considers them terrorists linked to an insurgency in Turkey.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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