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Turkey, Russia discuss handing over Syria regime elements

Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus, Syria on 10 May 2010 [Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images]
Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus, Syria on 10 May 2010 [Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images]

Turkey has handed over 18 men believed to be Syrian government soldiers who were seized in northeast Syria near the Turkish border earlier this week, the Turkish Defence Ministry said late yesterday.

The ministry did not say who they were handed over to, but said it came about "as a result of the coordination with the authorities of the Russian Federation".

The move comes ahead of the scheduled start today of joint Turkish-Russian military patrols in northeast Syria near the border.

The 18 men were seized during operations southeast of Syria's Ras Al Ain town on 29 October, the defence ministry said on Twitter.

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Ras Al Ain is within the region targeted by Turkey in the offensive it launched on 9 October, together with Syrian opposition groups, with the aim of forcing the Kurdish YPG militia away from the border.

Ankara and Moscow agreed last week to remove YPG fighters to a depth of 30 kilometres south of the border inside Syria. Russia told Turkey that the YPG had left the strip within the 150-hour deadline.

On Wednesday, President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey had information that the YPG, which Ankara sees as a terrorist group because of its ties to Kurdish militants fighting an insurgency in southeast Turkey, had not completed its withdrawal.

He said Turkey's joint patrols with Russia were starting today at a depth of seven kilometreswithin Syria.

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Europe & RussiaMiddle EastNewsRussiaSyriaTurkey
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