Joint Turkish-Russian patrols in Syria start - defence ministry

Joint patrols by Turkish and Russian ground forces have started in northern Syria in a region across from Turkey’s southeastern province of Mardin, the Turkish Defence Ministry said on Friday. 

Turkish and Russian officials have been working on a mechanism for conducting joint patrols after Russia informed Turkey on Tuesday that the withdrawal of Kurdish armed groups 30 km south from Turkey’s border with northern Syria had been completed.

“The first Turkish-Russian joint patrols with ground and air units are underway east of Ad Darbasiyah in NE Syria as agreed between the Turkish and Russian presidents in Sochi on 22 October,” the ministry said in a statement on Twitter. 

The ministry also said that a Russian delegation would be arriving in Ankara to discuss tactical and technical issues regarding the planned 30 km deep safe zone to be established in northern Syria. A first contingent of officials from Moscow visited Turkey earlier this week. 

According to a deal agreed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the two countries militaries will conduct joint patrols in a 10 km deep area along a 444 km stretch of border between Turkey and Syria. But Erdoğan said in parliament on Wednesday that the patrols would be conducted to a depth of 7 km.