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Turkey completes evacuation of observation posts in Syrian regime-held territory: source

Turkish forces have maintained several observation posts in north-western Syria [Getty File Image]

Date of publication: 19 December, 2020

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Turkish forces have evacuated seven military observation posts in regime-held areas of north-western Syria, a source has told Reuters.
Turkish forces have fully evacuated seven of the military observation posts they maintained in north-western Syria, a Turkish source told Reuters on Friday.

The Turkish troops withdrew from territory held by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to areas controlled by Syrian rebels.

Turkey set up dozens of military observation posts in rebel-held parts of north-western Syria as part of a "de-escalation agreement" signed in 2017 with Russia and Iran. Turkey backs anti-Assad rebels in Syria while Russia and Iran have supported the Assad regime.

However, regime and Russian forces repeatedly violated the 2017 de-escalation agreement and later ceasefires, and rebel-held areas where seven of the Turkish observation posts were located were captured by the regime.

Read more: Syria Insight - Idlib comes under focus after Turkish troop movements

Turkey previously vowed to maintain those observation posts, even though they were surrounded by regime forces, but it began withdrawing its forces last October.

The anonymous Turkish source told Reuters that the withdrawal was completed on Thursday night and that under an agreement with Russia, the forces manning the posts had been redeployed to areas controlled by Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.

In late 2019 and early 2020, regime and Russian forces launched a deadly assault on rebel-held areas of Idlib province in north-western Syria, killing hundreds of people and displacing hundreds of thousands more.

Turkey intervened against regime forces and a ceasefire was signed in March 2020, but it is frequently violated by Russia and the regime.

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