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Official: YPG will withdraw from a strip on the Turkish border

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — The YPG will withdraw its troops and heavy weapons from a strip on the border between Syria and Turkey under accords between the United States and Turkey, an official in the coalition said on Tuesday.

The Kurdish-led authority, which runs many parts of northern and eastern Syria, also said the YPG’s withdrawal from some border posts in the past few days demonstrated how serious it was about the ongoing talks.

That development is a sign of progress in talks between the United States and Turkey aimed at resolving deep differences between them over the presence of Kurdish fighters, allied with the United States and whom Ankara considers enemies, in the border region.

After Ankara repeatedly warned that it would enter a military incursion in northeastern Syria to drive the YPG out of the border, Turkey and the United States said this month they had agreed to the first phase of a security agreement along the border.

The two countries gave few details on the agreement on what Turkey calls a “safe zone” inside Syria. This followed months of stalemate over the depth of the area in northeastern Syria, which remains a major sticking point, and who should lead the patrolling forces.

The YPG is led by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which controls most of northern and eastern Syria. US forces have been stationed for years in the area controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and provide training and weapons to fighters who have wrested control of the area from IS.

US President Donald Trump said late last year he would withdraw US troops but has so far refrained from doing so, partly to ensure the protection of the Kurds.

US support for the YPG has angered Turkey, which sees it as a security threat and linked to Kurdish militants on its soil.

“The width of the border on the Syrian side will vary and include rural areas or military sites, not cities or towns,” SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali told Reuters.

He said the YPG and the SDF would dismantle barriers he described as defensive in nature and hand over control to the military councils of local fighters.

Pale said Turkish and US-led coalition forces would guard the border sector but would be stationed inside Turkey.

He added that the agreement provides for the formation of a security mechanism and not a safe area, which calms Turkey’s allegations of fear for its national security.

Ankara has already sent its troops twice to northern Syria in recent years to keep Kurdish fighters out of its border.

– Affinity –

A source familiar with the talks told Reuters that although Washington and Ankara were still discussing the depth of the region, they agreed to start work on one section of the border.

“The arrangement of the safety mechanism is being implemented in stages,” the source said, adding that arrangements would vary in different areas of the border.

The source said the joint US-Turkish patrols would monitor the removal of heavy weapons, fortifications and tunnels, as well as the presence of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units between Tel Abyad and Ras Issa, two Syrian border towns separated by about 100 kilometers.

That sector accounts for almost a quarter of the entire border that could cover the region, which Turkey calls for a 20-mile (32-kilometer) stretch into Syria.

“There is convergence, but our insistence on the 20 miles is there,” the official said. The United States has taken steps to improve this, but it is still not enough … it is impossible for us to accept the presence of the SDF there. ”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Turkish ground forces would enter the planned area “very soon” after a joint military center with Washington was set up to oversee the operation over the weekend. He said Turkish drones and helicopters had already flown over the area.

Erdogan said Turkey had completed all preparations to implement its plans if its demands were not met.

The YPG, which runs the area controlled by the SDF, said the YPG had already withdrawn from the areas of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain in the past few days. “This step underscores the seriousness of our commitment to the current understandings and our keenness to reach a solution to all issues through peaceful dialogue with neighboring countries,” it said in a statement.

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