Syrian Kurdish Forces ‘Withdraws From Turkish Border’

  • The PDU had a privileged role in the coalition known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US military partner in Syria against the Islamic State group.
  • The delegations also said they would "establish as soon as possible a joint operations center in Turkey for safe zone coordination and management."
  • In recent years, the Turkish military has twice entered northern Syria to push back "People's Defense Units" from the border, the last of which was in Afrin district.

Kurdish officials in northeast Syria say a US-backed militia is withdrawing from an area on the Turkish border. The People’s Defense Units are said to have taken the first practical steps at the end of the week by withdrawing a number of fighters and weapons from two areas. The move is part of an agreement between Turkey and the United States. Turkey had threatened to launch an offensive into Syria if the People’s Defense Units didn’t leave the border and create a “safe zone.”

Ankara calls the group “terrorists” and says it is the arm of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought with the Turkish government over three decades for autonomy. The PDU had a privileged role in the coalition known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US military partner in Syria against the Islamic State group.

The People’s Protection Units or People’s Defense Units is a mainly-Kurdish militia in Syria and the primary component of the Syrian Democratic Forces. The YPG mostly consists of ethnic Kurds, but also includes Arabs, foreign volunteers, and is closely allied to the Syriac Military Council, a militia of Assyrians.

On August 7, US and Turkish military envoys agreed on “rapid implementation” of measures to “address security concerns” along the Syrian border, according to the US Embassy in Ankara. The delegations also said they would “establish as soon as possible a joint operations center in Turkey for safe zone coordination and management.” According to the US embassy, ​​”the safe zone will be a peace corridor and there will be a lot of efforts to bring the Syrian refugees back home.”

The Turkish Defense Minister said on Saturday that the center is operating “at full capacity” and that “the destruction of terrorist strongholds” has begun. The Kurdish-led North and East Syrian Authority confirmed on Tuesday that the PDU “dismantled a number of military strongholds” and “began withdrawing a unit and heavy weapons” in the Ras al-Ain region, and similar steps were announced on Monday in Tel Aviv.

The purpose of the measures was to fulfill the obligations of understanding between Turkey and the US and to show “how we are interested in reaching a solution through peaceful dialogue with neighboring countries.” The US military released photos last week of what it said were the demolition of the fort, saying it represented “SDF’s commitment to supporting the implementation of the security framework” agreed with Turkey. The US has not specified the size of this “safe” area, but Turkey wants it to be 2 to 4 kilometers wide. SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali told Reuters that the area would be 2 to 2 kilometers wide.

The PDU and the SDF will hand over control of the area to the military councils created by the region’s indigenous fighters. According to Mr. Bali, the US and Turkish forces will deploy security patrols there. In recent years, the Turkish military has twice entered northern Syria to push back “People’s Defense Units” from the border, the last of which was in Afrin district.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.


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