situation report

Syria: Russia, Turkey Agree on Safe Zone in Northern Syria

2 MINS READOct 22, 2019 | 17:52 GMT

What Happened: Russia and Turkey have reached an agreement to establish a safe zone in northern Syria along the Turkish border, Reuters reported Oct. 22. The deal will cement Ankara's military gains in the region between the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn and calls for the withdrawal of the Kurdish-aligned People's Protection Units (YPG) from nearly all remaining areas, where Russia and Turkey will hold joint patrols.

Why It Matters: The deal consolidates Turkish control over areas it gained during its offensive in northern Syria in recent weeks, bolsters Russia's influence as a key stakeholder in Syria and de-escalates tensions between Moscow and Ankara. However, the YPG will likely resist the agreement, particularly as it will require the group to abandon crucial urban areas, such as Kobani, Tel Rifaat and Manbij.

Background: The United States and Turkey reached a fragile cease-fire agreement for northeastern Syria on Oct. 17 after Ankara launched an offensive earlier this month. The deal is set to expire Oct. 22, with Turkey threatening in recent days that it could resume operations in the area.

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