Turkish President said Tuesday up to 800 Syrian Kurdish fighters have already left northern Syria under the agreement, while up to 1,300 rebels have yet to vacate there. The five-day ceasefire between Turkish troops and Syrian Kurdish militia is set to expire at 10 PM.
Prior to travelling to Moscow for a high-stakes meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Erdogan stressed that time is running out for the Kurdish militia in northern Syria. The fighters have not so much time to leave the area, according to the ceasefire deal.
The pullout occurred under the terms of a U.S.-brokered deal for a 120-hour pause in fighting that expires Tuesday night, to allow Syrian Kurdish fighters to leave areas Turkey controls following its incursion into northeast Syrian to drive the fighters away from its borders.
Turkey’s plan includes establishing a “safe zone” extending more than 400 km along the Turkish-Syrian border and about 30 km inside Syria. Ankara is going to resettle in that area about 2 million of 3.6 million Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey.
“There is no place for the (Kurdish fighters) in Syria’s future. We hope that with Russia’s cooperation, we will rid the region of separatist terror,” Erdogab said.
Erdogan-Putin talks: Syria latest developments
Turkish and Russian leaders scheduled to have talks in Sochi to focus on border areas that are currently held by Syrian government forces. Another important issue to discuss will be NATO. While Turkey’s incursion into Syria caused an international outcry, NATO allies weren’t standing by Turkey. the only measure the EU offered was Germany’s proposition to establish an internationally controlled security zone in Syria.
Despite the five-day ceasefire, President Erdogan has made clear he wants Turkish military presence along the full stretch of the border from the Euphrates River to Syria’s border with Iraq.
Syrian President Bashar Assad visited territory captured from Turkey-backed Syrian fighters in the northwestern province of Idlib on Tuesday, where he described Erdogan as a “thief.”