Turkey and Russia to discuss removal of Kurdish militia from Syrian towns
October 20 2019 02:07 PM
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu addresses lawmakers at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, O
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu addresses lawmakers at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, October 16, 2019

Reuters/Ankara

* Turkey wants to remove YPG militia from Manbij and Kobani
* The Syrian towns sit along border with Turkey
* Turkish minister says talks with Russia to take place next week 


Turkey and Russia will discuss the removal of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia from the northern Syrian towns of Manbij and Kobani during talks in Sochi next week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday.
Turkey paused its military offensive into northeastern Syria after President Tayyip Erdogan agreed on Thursday, in talks with US Vice President Mike Pence, a five-day ceasefire to allow the YPG to withdraw from a "safe zone" Ankara aims to establish near its border.
The truce is also aimed at easing a crisis triggered by US President Donald Trump's abrupt decision this month to withdraw all 1,000 US troops from northern Syria.
Erdogan, who has backed rebels fighting to oust Assad, has said Turkey has no problem with Syrian government forces deploying near the border.
Speaking at an interview with broadcaster Kanal 7 on Sunday, Cavusoglu said urgent talks between Erdogan and Russia's Vladimir Putin would be held next week.
"We will discuss the removal of the YPG terrorists from our borders, namely Manbij and Kobani, with the Russians," Cavusoglu said.
"We believe we can reach an agreement with them to work together in the future, just like we have before."
Erdogan on Saturday said he would also discuss Syrian army deployment in northern Syria with Putin, saying the two needed to find a solution to the matter. But he warned that "we will continue to implement our own plans" if a solution could not be reached, without elaborating.
Turkey's defence ministry said on Sunday that one Turkish soldier was killed and another was wounded after a YPG attack with anti-tank and light arms hit soldiers on a reconnaissance and surveillance mission in northeast Syria's Tel Abyad.
It said Turkish forces had responded to the attack and that 20 acts violating the deal were committed by the YPG since the start of the truce.
A separate statement from the ministry late on Saturday said that a convoy of 39 vehicles had entered and exited the border town of Ras al Ain to evacuate injured people.
Erdogan warned on Saturday that Turkey would resume the offensive and "crush the heads of terrorists" if the agreement faltered, with Turkey insisting it is Washington's duty to ensure the withdrawal of the YPG.
Cavusoglu reiterated that warning on Saturday, saying the offensive would continue if US promises were not kept. He said Turkey did not want to see "a single terrorist" left in the "safe zone" by the end of the five days.
Turkey's defence ministry said late on Saturday that it was monitoring the withdrawal of the YPG and was in close contact with US officials to provide logistical information.



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