Erdogan Says Joint Russia-Turkey Patrols to Begin in Syria on Friday

Erdogan continues to threaten attacks if he sees any Kurds within safe zone

The situation in northeastern Syria rests heavily on the existing Turkey-Russia deal remaining intact. Tuesday night was positive to that end, with Russia announcing that the Kurds were withdrawn from the safe zone by the deadline.

Turkey is not rejecting Russia’s claim to have gotten the Kurds out, but President Erdogan isn’t going to just stop threatening Kurds either, saying if he sees any Kurds within the safe zone “no matter from where” he will use force against them.

On the other hand, Erdogan also said that under the deal, Turkish and Russian troops will start conducting joint patrols in the safe zone as of Friday. That’s a very positive sign that could bring stability to the region, or at least keep the Turkish troops from just unilaterally attacking people.

That’s clearly the idea, but it’s also the one thing that might derail this deal before Friday, as Turkish troops continue to attack the Syrian military in the border town of Ras al-Ayn. Turkey killed six troops on Tuesday, capturing a number of others, and more fighting was reported Wednesday.

Turkey initially envisioned taking all Kurdish-held territory on the border, but the Kurds gave parts of the territory to the Syrian government before Turkey got there. Though Turkey doesn’t really have a justification, they’ve kept attacking Syrian forces in those areas as well, something Russia is likely to have to do something about to reduce the tensions.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.