Cavuşoglu: Turkey believes Russia on YPG withdrawal but cannot trust terrorists
Turkey trusts Russian authorities who assured Ankara that the PKK terrorist group's Syrian affiliate the People's Protection Units (YPG) have left northeastern Syria but the country does not trust terrorists, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavuşoglu said.
"Russia informed us that PKK/YPG elements left. We have to believe our Russian partners but we cannot trust terrorists," the Turkish minister said at a joint news conference with his Iranian and Russian counterparts in Geneva.
Cavuşoglu also vowed that Turkey will eliminate any YPG terrorists that remain in the planned "safe zone" in northeastern Syria after the expiration of a 150-hour deadline agreed upon by Ankara and Moscow. Touching on the Syria Constitutional Committee meetings, Çavuşoğlu said that the launch of talks for a new Syrian constitution is a huge leap forward, Daily Sabah reported.
On October 9, Turkey launched a military incursion into northern Syria, codenaming it Operation Peace Spring, with the Turkish Armed Forces and the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army carrying it out. The Erdogan government claimed that its goal is to clear the border area of what it calls ‘terrorists’ (Turkey’s broad label of the Kurdish forces) and establish a 30 km-long buffer zone in Syria’s north, where Syrian refugees from Turkey would resettle.
On October 22, Russian and Turkish Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, signed a memorandum on joint actions in northeastern Syria. Under the arrangement, the Russian military police and Syrian military were to be moved into the areas bordering the zone of Turkey’s operation in Syria as of noon of October 23. The Kurdish forces had 150 hours to vacate the 30-kilometer wide strip of land along the Turkish border. After that Russian and Turkish forces are to begin joint patrols.