Turkey, World

'All YPG terrorists in Tal Rifat, Manbij to be removed'

Ankara, Moscow to not allow any 'separatist agenda' in Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says

Diyar Guldogan, Gozde Bayar, Elena Teslova   | 22.10.2019
'All YPG terrorists in Tal Rifat, Manbij to be removed' President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) hold joint press conference after their meeting at Presidential Residence in Sochi, Russia on October 22, 2019. ( Sefa Karacan - Anadolu Agency )

ANKARA/MOSCOW

All YPG/PKK terrorists will be removed from Syria's Tal Rifat and Manbij, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

"All YPG terrorists and their weapons in Tal Rifat and Manbij will be taken out from this region," Erdogan said after more than six-hour-long meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Russia's coastal city of Sochi.

His one-day working visit to Sochi came after Ankara launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

Following the meeting, Turkey and Russia reached a 10-article agreement on Syria.

"We signed a historic agreement with Putin on the fight against terrorism, the territorial integrity and political unity of Syria and the return of refugees," Erdogan said.

Erdogan said YPG/PKK terrorists and their weapons will be removed to the depth of 30 kilometers (19 miles) off Turkey’s border in northern Syria, which should be finalized in 150 hours starting at 12 noon (0900GMT) on Oct. 23.

He added that Turkey and Russia are set to launch joint patrols 10 km (6 miles) off east and west of Operation Peace Spring area.

"Turkey and Russia will not allow any separatist agenda in Syria," Erdogan said.

He reiterated that Turkey has "no eyes" on Syria's territorial integrity and sovereignty. 

Both countries will maintain their efforts to reach a political solution in Syria.

"I believe that the agreement we have reached with my esteemed friend Putin will start a new era on Syria's permanent stability and its clearance of terrorism", Erdogan said. 

He added Turkey and Russia will continue to work hard to restore peace, security and stability in Syria.

Russia understands Turkey's concern over security

Putin, for his part, said Russia has repeatedly noted that it understands Turkey's desire to take steps to reliably guarantee its national security.

"We share the concern of the Turkish side in connection with the intensification of terrorism and the growth of ethnic and religious contradictions in this area," he added.

Russian president said a "durable and long-term" stabilization in Syria can be achieved only if the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country are respected.

"This is a principled position, and we have discussed this in detail with the President of Turkey. It is important that our partners share this approach," he added.

Putin also said Syrian Constitutional Committee will have its first meeting on Oct. 29-30 in Geneva.

Turkey, Russia, and Iran are guarantor countries which brokered a cease-fire in Syria in December 2016, leading to the Astana talks, which are running parallel to the UN-led Geneva talks.

During a trilateral meeting in Ankara on Sept. 16, Erdogan, Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reaffirmed their readiness to facilitate the launching of the Syrian Constitutional Committee.

Putin also called on the international community, especially the relevant UN agencies, to actively provide humanitarian assistance to all returning Syrians.

"We believe it is necessary to continue to help Syrian refugees return to their homeland, which will significantly ease the burden of the socio-economic burden borne by the countries that have agreed to accept Syrians, of course, including, first of all, the Republic of Turkey," he said.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, over 5 million civilians have become refugees. Turkey hosts 3.6 million of them, the most any country does in the world.

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