ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) told Kurdistan 24 that they do not take issue with joint Turkish-Russian patrols that began on Friday if they bring an end to Ankara’s attacks in northern Syria.
“The ongoing patrols are part of the agreement between Russia and Turkey, which we have approved,” said Kino Gabriel, the official spokesperson of the SDF.
“At the end, we do not have a problem with the patrols; we want Turkey to stop their attacks,” he added.
On Friday, the first Turkish-Russian joint patrol was conducted on the Syrian-Turkish border in an area between the towns of Dirbesiye and Amude. Afterward, Turkish armored vehicles returned to Turkey while Russian forces returned separately to the city of Qamishli.
Some Kurdish villagers pelted passing Turkish military convoys with shoes, rocks, and tomatoes.
According to the Russian-Turkish deal, made at the resort city of Sochi following Turkey’s cross-border incursion, Kurdish forces were supposed to withdraw after a 150-hour deadline from the first ceasefire agreement which expired Tuesday night.
The SDF announced it had complied with the Russian-Turkish ceasefire conditions and withdrawn all its forces from prescribed areas along the Turkish border. On Tuesday, Russian Minister of Defence Sergey Lavrov declared a complete withdrawal of Kurdish forces from “safe zones” as the ceasefire expired.
Since then, fighting has continued.
On Wednesday, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced that Turkish-Russian joint patrols in Syria were scheduled to start on Friday.
Gabriel told Kurdistan 24 that the SDF would like to other provisions of the agreement, “either the one [brokered] by the US, or Russia. We have no issue with the patrols if they will make Turkey stop their attacks.”
Lavrov said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 TV channel on Friday that Russia has created conditions that will make it possible to “agree on the Kurdish fate in Syria calmly rather than in pauses between combat actions.”
“The Kurds are living in Iraq and in Iran, and certainly, a huge number of the Kurds are living in Turkey,” he concluded. “Nobody wants this region to ‘explode’ over tensions around the Kurdish issue, and no one wants the Kurds to feel like they are secondary citizens.”
Editing by John J. Catherine