Kurds complete pullout from Syrian border
ISTANBUL (AFP) — Russia has informed Turkey that Kurdish fighters in Syria have completed their withdrawal from areas near the border, in accordance with a deal agreed between Ankara and Moscow, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday.
“Russia informed our competent authorities of the terror groups’ complete withdrawal from there,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in Ankara marking Turkey’s Republic Day.
Under the agreement reached last week in the Black Sea resort of Sochi between Turkey and Russia, a 150-hour deadline was given for Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters and their weapons to be withdrawn from a zone extending 30 kilometers (18 miles) back from the Turkish border.
That deadline expired at 1500 GMT Tuesday.
Russia earlier said that Kurdish forces in northern Syria had withdrawn as planned.
“The withdrawal of armed units from territory where a security corridor should be created has been completed ahead of time,” Russian news agencies quoted Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying on a visit to Armenia.
Under the Sochi deal, Turkish and Russian joint patrols are meant to start after the 150-hour deadline expired.
No date was given for the start of joint patrols but Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said they would begin “soon,” according to the private NTV broadcaster.
The patrols are to be in two zones stretching 10 kilometers to the east and west of Turkey’s current Operation Peace Spring against Kurdish forces in Syria.
Erdogan said Turkey’s consultations with Russia would continue on Wednesday.
“We are not there (in Syria) to stay. We have only one goal: we are there to clear terror groups,” he said.
Ankara says the YPG is a terror group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody campaign against the Turkish state since 1984.
The Turkish military, together with its proxies in Syria, launched an operation on Oct. 9 to clear YPG forces from areas near its border and create a safe zone to repatriate some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) — The United States and 22 other countries at the United Nations pushed China on Tuesday to stop detaining ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims, prompting China’s U.N. envoy to warn it was not “helpful” for trade talks between Beijing and Washington.
China has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in remote Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills. The United Nations says at least 1 million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims have been detained.
“It’s hard to imagine that on the one hand you are trying to seek to have a trade deal, on the other hand you are making use of any issues, especially human rights issues, to blame the others,” China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun told reporters.
He said there was “progress” in the trade talks. But he said of the U.S. criticism of China at the United Nations: “I do not think its helpful for having a good solution to the issue of trade talks.”
U.S. and Chinese negotiators are working to complete the text of an interim trade agreement for U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Chile on Nov. 16-17.
A U.S. administration official said on Tuesday it might not be completed in time for signing in Chile, but that does not mean the accord is falling apart.
Men, suspected of being affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) group, gather in a prison cell in the northeastern Syrian city of Hasakeh, Oct. 26. Kurdish sources say around 12,000 IS fighters including Syrians, Iraqis as well as foreigners from 54 countries are being held in Kurdish-run prisons in northern Syria.