US. authorities have informed Turkey that People’s Protection Units (YPG) terrorists have withdrawn from the designated safe zone area in Northern Syria, Ministry of National Defense (MSB) said in a statement late Tuesday.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a statement later that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has confirmed that the YPG retreated.
“Turkey and the United States reached an agreement on 17 October 2019 regarding the northeast of Syria and as stipulated by that agreement Operation Peace Spring was paused for 120 hours. We have shown due sensitivity in fulfilling all the obligations we agreed to,” the statement said.
Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northeastern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Turkish and U.S. delegations reached an agreement recently to pause Turkey’s counterterrorism operation in northern Syria for 120 hours, in which the PKK terrorist group’s Syrian affiliate YPG was expected to withdraw from the designated safe zone area.
“Within the scope of the agreement reached between the presidents of Turkey and the Russian Federation in Sochi on 22 October 2019 joint activities will start with the Russian Federation from Wednesday,” the statement added.
“The Sochi agreement includes articles upholding Turkey’s border security and withdrawal of YPG terrorist elements 30 km. away from our border. At this stage, there is no further need to conduct a new operation outside the present operation area,” MSB said.
“Turkey will never let a terror corridor be established to the south of her borders and our resolute fight against terrorism will continue. So by creating a peace corridor in the area, we will ensure the safe and voluntary return of displaced Syrian brothers and sisters to their homes and lands,” the statement added.
A senior Turkish official said Turkish and Russian delegations had very productive meetings in Sochi earlier on the same day and had reached an “excellent agreement” regarding the situation in northern Syria.
In 2017, the Astana peace process to end the Syrian conflict was spearheaded by Turkey, Russia and Iran in Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana), Kazakhstan’s capital, and since then it has seen over a dozen meetings.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar 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.