ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Russian forces deployed at the Tishrin dam between Manbij and Ain Issa on Sunday, where they held a meeting with local authorities.
A Russian Military Police official met with Ismet Sheikh Hassan, the head of the Kobani Military Council, who handed the Russian military official a Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) flag.
Hassan told Kurdistan 24 that the deployment of Russian and Syrian government forces is meant “to protect Syrian borders.”
There was no political agreement with the Syrian government.
Hassan underlined that the institutions of the Kurdish-backed, multi-ethnic Self-Administration of North and East Syria would remain intact and continue working as before.
General Boris, a commander of the Russian Military Police, said the deployment of Russian troops is to protect the area from the so-called Islamic State, which had previously occupied the dam.
“Russia continues to fight ISIS in various regions of Syria,” General Boris told Kurdistan 24.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova told reporters on Thursday that the Oct. 22 Russian-Turkish Memorandum is being gradually implemented.
“The Kurdish forces have withdrawn from the Syrian-Turkish border,” Zakharova said. “Syrian government troops are being deployed in the liberated areas, and joint Russian-Turkish patrolling of the 10-kilometer border strip in the Qamishli and Kobani areas has begun.”
“These measures helped stop the bloodshed and suffering of the local people, Kurds and Arabs alike.”
On Thursday, Russian forces entered a former US base near Kobani after American troops evacuated. Russia has also brought helicopters, and military reinforcements to the Qamishlo airbase, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday.
Yury Barmin, the Middle East and North Africa Director at the Moscow Policy Group, told Kurdistan 24 that Russia is expanding and reinforcing its positions in northern Syria to brace for a possible failure of the Russia-Turkey agreement.
“The expansion there will allow Russia to negotiate with Ankara from a better standing point,” Barmin said. “This also allows Moscow to have more bargaining power vis-à-vis the Kurds.”
“What’s important for Moscow is to demonstrate to them that the Syria government and the Syrian government are cementing their presence in the northeast but will also allow them to give more guarantees to the Kurds that Moscow will be able to protect their interests if they choose to negotiate with Damascus.”
According to the Russian-Turkish deal, made at the resort city of Sochi on Oct. 22 following Turkey’s cross-border incursion, Kurdish forces were supposed to withdraw after a 150-hour deadline from the first ceasefire agreement.
After the deadline, the SDF announced it had complied with the Russian-Turkish ceasefire conditions and withdrawn all its forces from the prescribed regions along the Turkish border.
However, Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF press office, warned that the ceasefire continues to be violated.
“The fighting is continuing in those areas. Syrians, Russians, and the Americans are guarantors, but they are not doing anything,” he told Kurdistan 24.
“They are not abiding by the agreements they have made. They didn’t put limits on the Turkish army yet.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Redwan Bezar)