Turkish Defense Ministry has said that a new military operation in Syria is not necessary, following the end of a 120-hour-long ceasefire and an agreement reached between Ankara and Moscow.
The ministry said that militants of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) completely withdrew from the area that Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring was carried out, as part of the ceasefire deal between Ankara and Washington.
Turkish authorities have reached two separate deals with the U.S. and Russia, on Oct. 17 and Oct. 22, respectively.
Both deals concerned Turkey’s military offensive in northern Syria, dubbed Operation Peace Spring, that was launched on Oct. 9 with Turkey-backed Syrian rebels called the Syrian National Army.
The aim of the operation was announced as clearing the border from YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and creating a “safe zone” in order for the return of over one million Syrian refugees.
Turkey perceives the YPG as a terrorist organization due to its links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated as a terror group by Ankara, the U.S. and the European Union.
While the operation was made possible by U.S. President Donald Trump’s to withdraw U.S. troops from the area, relations between the NATO allies deteriorated rapidly after the incursion began.
Following harsh exchange of words and imposition of sanctions, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited Turkey to hold a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Oct. 17.
In the aforementioned meeting, the sides have reached an agreement to pause the offensive for five days in order for YPG militants to leave the area.
Hours before the end of the 120 hours, a deal between Russia and Turkey was reached in the meeting between Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who hailed the agreement as “momentous.”
Turkish Defense Ministry said that the U.S. notified Turkey on the completion of YPG withdrawal, while adding that joint efforts with Russia are set to begin on Oct. 23.
“Voluntary and safe return of our Syrian siblings, who were displaced, will be ensured through the creation of a peace corridor in the region,” the ministry statement also said, referring to over 3.6 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
President Erdoğan also commented on YPG withdrawal, saying that “the U.S. hasn’t properly fulfilled its promises.”
“We will take the necessary steps. We would be paving the way for the terrorist group if we were to make compromises,” Erdoğan told journalists upon returning from Sochi to Ankara.