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Russia Adding Helicopters to Patrol-Mix in Northeastern Syria

Russian Military Police personnel patrolling a 20-mile-wide Syrian corridor along the border with Turkey are now being watched over by helicopters, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency. The report quotes a Russian military helicopter pilot as saying the flights “will be carried out daily along all the patrol routes” at an altitude of between 150 and 180 feet. The patrol activity, undertaken both with Turkish troops and with soldiers from the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, emerged from an agreement between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, under which Ankara would end attacks against Kurdish forces in the corridor. Turkey began an incursion into the area on October 9, saying it aimed to push the Kurds away from the border, accusing them of providing assistance to an outlawed group of Turkish Kurds seeking autonomy. Erdogan has often spoken of creating a “safe zone” in the area for refugees who entered Turkey when fleeing Syria’s eight-year civil war.