Russia has told Turkey that YPG has withdrawn from north Syria, says Erdoğan

Russian officials have informed Turkish authorities that the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have withdrawn from a strip of land on the Syrian-Turkish border in accordance with a 150-hour deadline set by Turkey and Russia, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

Erdoğan’s statement at a celebration marking the anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic, follows that of Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu, who earlier Tuesday that the YPG had completed their withdrawal ahead of the deadline.

"Russia informed Turkish authorities that YPG terrorist organisation has withdrawn from [north Syria] region, the talks will continue tomorrow," state-run Anadolu News Agency quoted Erdoğan as saying.

Ankara and Moscow agreed on Oct. 22 to remove the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia to beyond 30 km (19 miles) from the Turkish border, after which their troops will jointly patrol a narrower strip of land in a “safe zone” Ankara has long sought in the north of neighbouring Syria.

Ankara sees the YPG as terrorists because of their links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is waging an insurgency in southeast Turkey, and on Oct. 9 launched an offensive in northeast Syria targeting the Kurdish forces.

The Turkish president also said the primary objective of all parties interested in Syria, with the exception of Turkey, was the control of the country’s oil resources. 

"A primitive understanding that considers a drop of oil more valuable than a drop of blood, is blatantly obvious," Erdoğan said.

The Pentagon on Monday said the United States would repel any attempt to take Syria’s oil fields away from U.S.-backed Syrian militia with “overwhelming force”.

“U.S. troops will remain positioned in this strategic area to deny ISIS access those vital resources. And we will respond with overwhelming military force against any group that threatens the safety of our forces there,” U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper told reporters at the Pentagon.