Turkey, Russia Begin Joint Patrols in Northeastern Syria
Turkish and Russian troops began jointly patrolling areas along the Turkey-Syria border on Friday, as agreed in a deal between Ankara and Moscow that pushed Kurdish forces out of the area. Following US President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement that he would pull US troops out of northern Syria, Turkey launched a cross-border incursion on October 9. Together with allied Syrian rebels, Turkey took control of a 75-mile-long area, removing Kurdish YPG fighters who were US allies in the fight against ISIS, to a depth of 19 miles from the border. The Russian Defense Ministry said that the patrols, starting from Ad Darbasiyah, would continue to a point about 70 miles to the west along a strip 6 miles in depth. They involve Russian and Turkish ground forces, armored vehicles, and drones. In further Turkish-Russian military cooperation, the Turkish Defense Ministry reported that, overnight between Thursday and Friday, Turkey released to Russian custody 18 men believed to be Syrian government soldiers whom its forces had captured in operations earlier this week southeast of Ras Al Ain.