Syrian Kurdish forces will withdraw from border, says SDF commander

Syrian Kurdish forces will withdraw from border, says SDF commander
A senior Kurdish militia leader has said his forces will withdraw from the Syria-Turkey border area once Turkey allows the evacuation of its remaining fighters.
2 min read
20 October, 2019
The SDF accused Turkey of continuing strikes on Saturday [Getty]
Syrian Kurdish forces will pull back from a border area in accordance with a US-brokered deal after Turkey allows the evacuation of its remaining fighters and civilians from a besieged town there, a Kurdish official said on Saturday.

Redur Khalil, a senior Syrian Democratic Forces official, said the plan for evacuation from the border town of Ras al-Ayn is set for the following day, if there are no delays.

He says only after that will his force pull back from a 120-kilometer (75-mile) area between the towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tal-Aybad. It will withdraw and move back from the border 30 kilometers (19 miles).

This is the first time the Kurdish-led force has publicly acknowledged it will withdraw from the border, saying it has coordinated it with the Americans. The agreement has not specified the area of its pullback.

Previous agreements between the US and Turkey over a "safe zone" along the Syria-Turkish border floundered over the diverging definitions of the area.

Khalil said a partial evacuation happened earlier on Saturday from Ras al-Ayn after much stalling and with US coordination.

Continued shelling

Syrian Kurdish forces said on Saturday that Turkey was failing to abide by terms of the US-brokered ceasefire, refusing to lift a siege it imposed on a key border town in northeastern Syria more than a day after the truce went into effect.

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Plumes of smoke were seen rising from a field near the town of Tal Tamr and ambulances were mobilised in the area.

The ceasefire got off to a rocky start, with sporadic fighting and shelling around Ras al-Ayn on Friday.

The border town is a test for the deal in which Turkey asks that Kurdish fighters vacate the frontier zone.

Turkey wants Kurdish fighters, who it considers "terrorists", to pull back from a border area.

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