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Kurdish fighters have not left Syria 'safe zone' despite US, Russia deals: Erdogan

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

Reuters Ankara, Turkey Nov 05, 2019, 04.01 PM (IST)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia had not withdrawn from a planned "safe zone" in northeast Syria despite Turkey's agreements with the United States and Russia.

Turkey struck two separate deals with the United States and Russia for the YPG, which Ankara views as a terrorist group, to withdraw from the "safe zone" it plans to form in northeastern Syria.

While Washington and Moscow have said the fighters left, Erdogan has said this was not the case.

Speaking to lawmakers from his AK Party in Ankara, Erdogan said YPG fighters remained in Tel Rifaat, Manbij and to the east of Ras al Ain, which Turkey targeted in its latest incursion.

He also said Turkey would abide by its deals as long as the United States and Russia kept their own promises.

He later told reporters in parliament that US forces were still holding joint patrols with the YPG inside the 30-km border strip from which the militia was meant to withdraw.

"How can we explain America holding patrols with terrorist organisations in this region even though they made the decision to withdraw? This is not in our agreement," he said.

Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist group tied to militants who have waged an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984. US support for the YPG, which was the main ally in the fight against the Islamic State, has infuriated Turkey.

Story highlights

Turkey struck two separate deals with the United States and Russia for the YPG, which Ankara views as a terrorist group, to withdraw from the "safe zone" it plans to form in northeastern Syria.