Kurdish YPG still in border area as agreed deadline looms, Ankara says
Kurdish YPG forces have still not fully withdrawn from a strip of land in northeast Syria from which Ankara says they must leave, according to Turkey’s defense minister. Hulusi Akar’s statement came hours before a deadline for their removal expires, Reuters said.
Under an accord reached a week ago between the presidents of Turkey and Russia, Syrian border guards and Russian military police were supposed to remove all YPG forces and their weapons from a 30km (19 mile) band of territory south of the Turkish-Syrian border by 1500 GMT on Tuesday. After that deadline, Russian and Turkish forces will start jointly to patrol a narrower, 10km strip of land on the Syrian side of the border.
It looks like the YPG is still in the area of ‘Operation Peace Spring,’ Akar told the Sabah newspaper, in an interview published on Tuesday.
The minister said there were still around 1,000 YPG fighters in the border town of Manbij and a further 1,000 in nearby Tel Rifat. The two towns are located to the west of the strip of territory that Turkey wants to turn into a “safe zone.”