Six hours of discussion in Sochi ended in a deal between President Vladimir Putin and President Recep Erdogan for a buffer zone, a halt in Turkey’s operation in NE Syria and its pullback from the country, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. Their memorandum has five main points:
- Russia agreed to remove the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia to beyond 30 km from the Turkish border, after which Russian and Turkish troops will jointly patrol a narrow 10km deep “safe zone.”
- Beginning at noon on Wednesday, Russian military police and Syrian border guards will facilitate the removal of YPG members and weapons to beyond the zone within 150 hours (thereby continuing the truce US Vice President Mike Pence concluded with Erdogan last week.)
- This truce will be extended as of Wednesday noon.
- The situation in the Syrian Kurdish towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad which Turkish forces were poised to attack, but never captured, will remain as is up to 32km from the border. Our military sources say that this point in effect allows the Kurdish forces to stay where they are in parts of those towns.
- The Kurdish YPG will leave the towns of Tel Rifaat and Manjib.
- Turkey agrees to terminate its military operation against the Kurds of northern Syria.
Erdogan then announced finally: “We have signed a historic memorandum for the territorial and political integrity of Syria and the return of refugees.” He refrained from alluding to the Kurds in his statement. Putin said: “We resolved the rather acute situation that has developed on the Syrian-Turkish border.” He too omitted mention of the Kurdish issue.