Turkish and Russian troops completed their third joint ground patrols in northern Syria as part of a deal reached after Turkey launched an anti-terror operation in the region last month, said the National Defense Ministry on Friday.
The patrols were carried out between the cities of Qamishli and Derik, east of the Euphrates, which were cleared of terrorists by Turkey, and took some three hours and 45 minutes, said the ministry on Twitter.
Turkish and Russian military assets did the patrol along an 88-kilometers (54.6-miles) route some 10 km (6.2 mi) from the Turkish border.
They were backed by drones and four armored vehicles of the Turkish army, the statement added.
The third round of patrols marked a first for the Turkish army as it crossed into eastern Qamishli for the very first time, with many reporters watching the developments closely.
The first joint ground patrol on Nov. 1 took place 40 km (25 mi) east of Ras al-Ayn and 30 km (18.6 mi) west of Qamishli.
The second, on Nov. 5, took place east of Ayn al-Arab and west of Tal Abyad.
Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad were cleared of terrorists during Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring -- launched on Oct. 9 to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Ankara wants YPG/PKK terrorists to withdraw from the region so that a safe zone can be created to pave the way for the safe return of some two million refugees.
On Oct. 22, Turkey and Russia reached a deal under which YPG/PKK terrorists would pull back 30 km (18.6 mi) south of Turkey’s border with Syria, and security forces from Turkey and Russia would mount joint patrols there.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.
Reporting by Burak Bir, Ali Murat Alhas and Fahri Aksut
Writing by Fahri Aksut