Ankara, Nov 12 (IANS) Turkish and Russian troops on Tuesday carried out their fifth joint patrol in northern Syria in the Ayn al-Arab region, as part of a deal over the withdrawal of Syrian Kurdish militia from Turkey’s border.
“The fifth Turkish-Russian joint land patrol conducted in the Ayn al-Arab region east of the Euphrates is continuing with due care and diligence for the safety of both civilians and our military personnel despite provocation by terrorists,” said a statement by the Turkish defence ministry, reports Xinhua news agency.
The statement referred to the protesters who threw stones at Russian and Turkish armoured vehicles as they passed through Kurdish areas in northeastern Syria.
The joint patrols are part of a memorandum between Ankara and Moscow to remove fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) 30 km from the Turkish border.
Ankara sees the YPG as the Syrian offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
On October 9, Turkey launched a military incursion into northern Syria in a bid to drive Kurdish fighters out of the border region, following the pullout of US troops.
The United States reached a deal with Turkey on October 17, imposing a five-day cease-fire to allow the Kurdish forces to pull back from the planned safe zone that Turkey wants to create in northern Syria to ensure its border security.
On October 22, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a meeting in Sochi, Russia, where they agreed on the pullout of the YPG fighters to 30 km south of Turkey’s border within 150 hours and conducting joint patrols 10 km from the Turkish border in a region that excludes the city of Qamishli.