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Monday 14 October 2019

Syrian Troops Enter North-Eastern Town after Deal with Kurds

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BEIRUT/ANKARA (Reuters) — Syria’s troops have entered a north-eastern town, Syrian state media said on Monday, after Kurdish forces reached a deal with Damascus to help resist a Turkish attack.

Syrian state media said on Monday that Syrian troops entered Tel Tamer, a town on the strategically important M4 highway that runs east to west along the border with Turkey.

A top Syrian Kurdish official said a “preliminary military” deal with Damascus had been reached for government forces to enter border areas from the town of Manbij in the west to Derik, 400 km away in the northeast.

Badran Jia Kurd said the deal is limited to the army’s deployment along the border and the two sides will discuss political issues later. The Kurds have set up an autonomous administration in territory they control, while Assad aims to impose the rule of his government across all Syrian territory.

The army deployment would help the SDF in countering the Turkish offensive and “liberating the areas that the Turkish army and mercenaries had entered,” it added, referring to Turkey-backed Syrian rebels. It would allow the recapture of other Syrian cities captured by the Turkish army such as Afrin.

Ankara says its operation aims to neutralize the Kurdish YPG militia, the main element of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist group because of its links to guerrillas waging an insurgency in southeast Turkey.

U.S. Defence Secretary Mike Esper indicated on Sunday that one factor behind the American pullout was that the SDF aimed to strike a deal with Russia and Syria to counter the Turkish offensive. Hours later, the Kurdish-led administration said it had made such a deal for the Syrian army to deploy along the Turkish border to repel Ankara’s incursion.

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