ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey and Russia will discuss the removal of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia from the northern Syrian towns of Manbij and Kobani throughout talks in Sochi subsequent week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu mentioned on Sunday.
Turkey paused its army offensive into northeastern Syria after President Tayyip Erdogan agreed on Thursday, in talks with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, a five-day ceasefire to enable the YPG to withdraw from a “safe zone” Ankara goals to set up close to its border.
The truce can also be geared toward easing a disaster triggered by U.S. President Donald Trump’s abrupt determination this month to withdraw all 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria, a transfer criticized in Washington and elsewhere as a betrayal of Kurdish allies who had fought for years alongside U.S. troops towards Islamic State.
But Trump’s transfer additionally means the extent of Turkey’s ambitions within the area is probably going to be decided by Russia and Iran, who each assist Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and are wanting to fill the vacuum created by the U.S. retreat.
Assad has already deployed his forces in territory previously protected by Washington, invited by the Kurds. Erdogan, who has backed rebels preventing to oust Assad, has mentioned Turkey has no downside with Syrian authorities forces deploying close to the border.
Speaking at an interview with broadcaster Kanal 7 on Sunday, Cavusoglu mentioned pressing talks between Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin could be held subsequent week.
“We will discuss the removal of the YPG terrorists from our borders, namely Manbij and Kobani, with the Russians,” Cavusoglu mentioned.
“We believe we can reach an agreement with them to work together in the future, just like we have before.”
Ankara regards the YPG, the primary element of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as a terrorist group as a result of of its hyperlinks to Kurdish insurgents in southeast Turkey. The YPG has been an in depth U.S. ally within the battle towards Islamic State.
The SDF and Damascus struck a deal this month to counter the Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria, prompting Syrian military forces to deploy in Manbij and Kobani, towns of strategic significance given their location on the Syrian border with Turkey.
While Erdogan and Putin have solid shut ties over protection and vitality cooperation, Moscow has mentioned the Turkish offensive into Syria was “unacceptable” and must be restricted.
Erdogan on Saturday mentioned he would additionally discuss Syrian military deployment in northern Syria with Putin, saying the 2 wanted to discover a answer to the matter. But he warned that “we will continue to implement our own plans” if an answer couldn’t be reached, with out elaborating.
Russian officers had spoken to Assad on Friday in regards to the want to de-escalate the scenario in northeast Syria, Russia’s overseas ministry mentioned on Saturday.
The shock deal to droop Turkey’s army offensive in Syria hinged on Erdogan’s demand that Washington agrees on a time restrict on any ceasefire, a senior Turkish official informed Reuters on Friday.
The deal goals to stem a humanitarian disaster that has displaced 200,000 civilians within the area and on the similar time ease safety issues over hundreds of Islamic State captives guarded by the YPG.
Though the delicate truce held for the primary two days of the settlement, Turkey’s protection ministry mentioned on Sunday that one Turkish soldier was killed and one other was wounded after a YPG assault with anti-tank and gentle arms hit troopers on a reconnaissance and surveillance mission in northeast Syria’s Tel Abyad.
It mentioned Turkish forces had responded to the assault and that 20 acts violating the deal had been dedicated by the YPG for the reason that begin of the truce.
A separate assertion from the ministry late on Saturday mentioned convoy of 39 automobiles had entered and exited the border city of Ras al Ain to evacuate injured individuals.
On Friday the Kurdish militia accused Turkey of violating the five-day pause by shelling civilian areas within the northeast. A senior Turkish official denied the accusations and mentioned they had been an try to sabotage the truce.
However, Erdogan warned on Saturday that Turkey would resume the offensive and “crush the heads of terrorists” if the settlement faltered, with Turkey insisting it’s Washington’s responsibility to make sure the withdrawal of the YPG.
Cavusoglu reiterated that warning on Saturday, saying the offensive would proceed if U.S. guarantees weren’t stored. He mentioned Turkey didn’t need to see “a single terrorist” left within the “safe zone” by the top of the 5 days.
Turkey’s protection ministry mentioned late on Saturday that it was monitoring the withdrawal of the YPG and was in shut contact with U.S. officers to present logistical info.
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Jane Merriman and David Goodman