Russia and Turkey will start holding joint patrols in northern Syria, according to an agreement reached between the presidents of the two countries in Sochi.
The memorandum was announced following a six-hour-long meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Oct. 22.
According to the agreement that Putin hailed as “momentous,” Russian military police and Syrian border guards will enter the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border, outside the area of Operation Peace Spring, to “facilitate the removal” of People’s Protection Units (YPG) elements and their weapons to the depth of 30 kilometers from the Turkish-Syrian border, which should be finalized in 150 hours starting from 12 p.m. of Oct. 23.
Following the end of the aforementioned 150 hours, joint Russian-Turkish patrols will start in the west and the east of the area of Operation Peace Spring with a depth of 10 kilometers, except Qamishli city.
The memorandum also said that all YPG elements and their weapons “will be removed” from Manbij and Tal Rifat.
Turkey launched its operation in northern Syria, dubbed Operation Peace Spring, on Oct. 9 in order to clear the border from the YPG and set up a “safe zone.”
The operation began following a White House announcement regarding the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the area.
Upon Washington’s sudden decision, YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) made a deal with the Syrian government in order to repel the Turkish incursion.
Russia is the major ally of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey has been calling on Assad to step down since the beginning of the war in 2011.
During the meeting, the two leaders have also reiterated their commitment to the territorial integrity and political unity of Syria, while also stating their “determination to combat terrorism in all forms and manifestations and to disrupt separatist agendas in the Syrian territory.”
“Both sides will take necessary measures to prevent infiltrations of terrorist elements,” the agreement that was read by foreign ministers of both countries said.
The memorandum also said that the established status quo in the current Operation Peace Spring area covering Tel Abyad and Ras Al Ayn with a depth of 32 kilometers will be preserved.
Moreover, both parties agreed on launching joint efforts to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees.
“Both sides reaffirm the importance of the Adana Agreement. The Russian Federation will facilitate the implementation of the Adana Agreement in the current circumstances,” the memorandum also read, referring to the agreement that was signed between Turkey and Syria in 1998 that aimed to ease Ankara’s concerns regarding the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“A joint monitoring and verification mechanism will be established to oversee and coordinate the implementation of this memorandum,” it added.