Turkish defence minister says Sochi deal continues as planned

Russia will complete the removal of Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces from northern Syria as of Oct. 29 in accordance with the timeline agreed by Turkey and Russia on Tuesday, Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters, Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency said on Saturday.

According to the deal between Ankara and Moscow, the YPG will withdraw 30 km south in 150 hours from areas in the west and east of a 120 km long safe zone Turkey wants to establish between northeastern Syrian towns of Tel Abyad and Ras al Ayn. Turkey and Russia will start joint patrols along the 444 km long border following the withdrawal of the YPG.

“The 150 hours will run out at 18:00 on October 29,”Akar said. “We are closely following what has been happening until then. We will reassess the situation afterwards and do what is necessary.”

The Kurdish forces have already withdrawn from the safe zone area following a deal between Turkey and the United States agreed last week.

Turkey sees the YPG as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and says its presence in territories in northern Syria along the Turkish border undermines Turkey’s security. 

Hundreds of troops of Bashar al-Assad's government in Damascus arrived in the Kurdish-held northeastern border town of Kobani on Friday, Agence France-Presse reported. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported the arrival of 180 vehicles in the town.

Russia also announced the arrival of 300 of their military police in Syria, AFP said.