Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said that Russia promised Ankara that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliate People’s Protection Units (YPG) will not be in the Syrian territories across the border.
In an interview with the BBC, Çavuşoğlu also said that Turkey will not oppose the removal of YPG elements from the region.
“If Russia, accompanied by the Syrian army, removes YPG elements from the region, we will not oppose this,” the minister was quoted as saying on Oct. 17.
Turkey launched a military offensive in northeastern Syria on Oct. 9 with the aim of clearing the border from the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and to set up a “safe zone” for the return of at least one million Syrian refugees.
Turkey, the United States and the European Union designate the PKK as a terrorist organization.
Turkey launched its long-sought operation after U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. troops would be withdrawing from the area.
The SDF perceived Trump’s decision as a betrayal due to the fact that the group was Washington’s main ally in the fight against ISIS and made a Russian-brokered deal with the Syrian army.
Turkey has been a staunch opponent of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the beginning of the war in 2011 and has repeatedly called on him to step down.
With Russia, which is Assad’s major ally, however, relations have been remarkably well, with Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan coordinating in a number of issues, including the situation in Syria’s northwest.
Syria should get control over its border with Turkey: Russia
Earlier on Oct. 17, Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman said Syria should get control over its border with Turkey as part of any settlement of the conflict in the region.
“We are convinced that long-term stability and security in this region of Syria, and in the country and the Middle East in general, is possible only on the basis of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Maria Zakharova said.
“This means at the end of the day, the Syrian legitimate government must be handed the ultimate control over all national territory, including control of the border areas with Turkey,” she added.
Elsewhere, during a meeting with Iraqi National Security Advisor Faleh al-Fayyad, Assad described Turkey’s offensive as a “blatant invasion and a clear aggression to which Syria has responded in many places through striking its agents and terrorists.”
Assad also said that Syria will respond to a “Turkish aggression” on any part of its territory with “all legitimate means” available.