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Turkey: Syria op goals achieved, no need for expansion

Members of Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in Turkey's Operation Peace Spring in Syria on 15 October 2019 [Behçet Alkan/Anadolu Agency]
Members of Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in Turkey's Operation Peace Spring in Syria on 15 October 2019 [Behçet Alkan/Anadolu Agency]

Turkey’s Defence Ministry has announced in a written statement that the military operation in north-east Syria does not need to be expanded and that there is no need to carry out any new operations due to the main goals having been achieved.

“Turkey will never allow a terrorist corridor to be formed south of its borders, and our fight against terrorism will continue with determination,” the statement by the ministry said, referring to its Operation Peace Spring which had been conducted in north-east Syria for almost two weeks before Turkey and Russia agreed on a 120 hour ceasefire.

Throughout the ceasefire, Russia and Turkey underwent negotiations for an agreement on the planned safe zone, which resulted in a “historic” deal between the two countries regarding the fate of the area and the methods with which it would be established. The deal and its terms, which some have called a success for Turkey while others see it as not being sufficient, state that Russian military police and Syrian regime border guards will enter parts of the planned safe zone to “facilitate the removal of YPG elements and weapons to the depth of 30 km” and would be “finalized in 150 hours.”

READ: Kurdish YPG seeks Israel’s help against Turkey

Following that process, joint Turkish-Russian patrols will be conducted in the east and west of the safe zone areas, up to a depth of ten kilometres. Elements of the Kurdish YPG militia will then be removed from the strategic towns of Manbij and Tal Rifat. The remaining terms were largely vague and consisted of general statements such as that of a “joint monitoring and verification mechanism” being established to oversee and implement the deal while working together to find a long-lasting political solution to the Syrian conflict.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu hailed the deal as largely a success and said that the primary goals of the operation were achieved, namely the fact that a “terror state” led by the YPG has not managed to establish itself along the Turkish-Syrian border, therefore keeping Turkey’s national security intact. Many, however, have expressed dissatisfaction over the deal as it states that Turkey will only have a presence and access to an area ten kilometres into the zone, based on the Adana agreement signed between Turkey and the Assad regime in 1988.

Cavusoglu swept aside that concern, however, saying: “The Assad regime has no capacity to implement the 1998 Adana deal between Turkey and Syria,” adding that Ankara does not have direct contacts with Damascus.

READ: Turkey sets deadline for Kurdish fighters in Syria

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