Trump says ceasefire in northeastern Syria holding well

Reuters Washington, United States Nov 02, 2019, 04.26 PM(IST)

File photo: US President Donald Trump Photograph:( AFP )

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Trump also said he had a very good relationship with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

US President Donald Trump said on Friday the ceasefire in northeastern Syria where Turkey has sent in troops to clear the area of Syrian Kurdish militia forces has held very nicely.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump also said he had a very good relationship with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

Meanwhile, Turkish and Russian troops in armoured vehicles held their first joint ground patrols in northeast Syria on Friday under a deal between the two countries that forced a Kurdish militia away from territory near Turkey's border.

Turkey and allied Syrian rebels launched a cross-border offensive on October 9 against the Kurdish YPG militia, seizing control of 120 km (75 miles) of land along the frontier.

Last week, Ankara and Moscow agreed to remove the militia fighters to a depth of at least 30 km (19 miles) south of the border and Russia has told Turkey that the YPG left the strip.

Turkish armoured vehicles on Friday drove across the border to join their Russian counterparts, according to Reuters television footage filmed from the Turkish side of the border. Around four hours later, they returned to Turkey.

Ground and air units were involved in the patrol around the Syrian border town of Darbasiya, the Turkish Defence Ministry said on Twitter, showing photos of soldiers studying a map and of four armoured vehicles.

On Wednesday, President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey had information that the YPG, which Ankara sees as a terrorist group because of its ties to Kurdish militants in southeast Turkey, had not completed its pullout.

Russia is the Syrian government's most powerful ally and helped it turn the tables in the country`s civil war by retaking much of the country from rebels since 2015. The Turkish-Russian deal last week allowed Syrian government forces to move back into border regions from which they had been absent for years.

Ankara launched its offensive against the YPG following President Donald Trump's abrupt withdrawal of 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria in early October. The YPG helped the United States smash the Islamic State "caliphate" in Syria.