ANKARA – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that the United States was conducting joint patrols with Kurdish militants in the security zone in northern Syria, which contradicts the US-Turkish arrangements on Kurdish forces’ withdrawal.
“Today, we started our second joint patrol as part of the agreement with Russia. Unfortunately, the United States is holding separate patrols with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) terrorist group. However, they were expected to leave! How will the United States explain this? There is no such a thing in our agreement,” Erdogan told reporters, according to Sputnik.
The statement comes after Ankara and Washington reached an agreement on 17 October, which ensures a 120-hour ceasefire to allow the withdrawal of YPG forces from the Turkish border area days after the start of the Turkish military operation against Kurdish militants in northern Syria.
As the five-day truce came to an end, Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a memorandum that would see the Kurdish fighters pull back from the border area. In addition, Turkey and Russia have since begun joint patrols in the operation zone in Syria along the Turkish border.
On 9 October, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring in northeastern Syria to clear the area of Kurdish units. Turkey’s stated goal is to drive the Kurdish-dominated SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) at least 30 km away from the Syrian-Turkish state border and establish a buffer zone that would cut off the Kurdish forces in Syria from those operating inside the Turkish territory.
The situation is extremely volatile, given the sheer number of intricate alliances between the warring parties. Although both the US and Turkey are NATO member-states (and thus “allies”), they have diametrically opposing views of the Kurds and their role in the Syrian conflict. While the US (officially) supports the Kurds, Turkey sees them as “terrorists”.