Kurds com­plete pull­out from Syr­ian bor­der

The Korea Times - - WORLD -

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.

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