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Sat, 25 Jan 2020 21:03 GMT

Kurdish Fighters Leave Besieged Syrian Town

Politics

7Dnews London

Sun, 20 Oct 2019 18:40 GMT

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces has fully withdrawn from a Turkish-encircled town in northern Syria, Sunday October 20th, AFP reported.

 A US-brokered ceasefire was announced Thursday October 17th, giving Kurdish forces until Tuesday evening October 15th to leave an area Ankara wants to create inside Syrian territory along its southern frontier.

The deal requires the SDF, the de facto army of Kurdish authorities in northeastern Syria, to pull out of a border zone 32 kilometres (20 miles) deep into Syrian territory, the length of which is not clear.

The Kurds have agreed to withdraw from a stretch of 120 kilometres (70 miles) from Tal Abyad to Ras al-Ain. Yet, Turkey ultimately wants a much longer "safe zone" to stretch 440 kilometres along the border.

On Saturday October 19th, SDF commander Mazloum Abdi, said Kurdish forces would withdraw from the 120-kilometre zone, as soon as they were allowed out of Ras al-Ain, which was besieged by Turkish troops and its Syrian proxies.

The SDF later said its fighters had evacuated the border town, as part of the truce agreement. "We don't have any more fighters" in Ras al-Ain, SDF spokesman Kino Gabriel said on Twitter.

Turkey's defence ministry confirmed earlier that Kurdish fighters were leaving Ras al-Ain. At least 50 vehicles, including ambulances, leaving the town hospital, from which flames erupted shortly after their departure, according to AFP.

Dozens of fighters in military clothing left on pickups, passing by checkpoints manned by Ankara-allied Syrian fighters, he said.

The Kurds have been a key ally with Washington in the US-backed fight against the Isis terrorist group in Syria, but Turkey describes them as "terrorists" linked to Kurdish militants on its own soil.

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump said US Special Forces would be withdrawn from northern Syria, in what was widely seen as betrayal of the Kurds, and a green light for a Turkish assault on October 9th against Syria's Kurds.


Middle East