Erdogan Says Russia Not Fulfilling Obligations On Syria

ANKARA (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 22nd November, 2022) Russia has not been fulfilling its obligation to clean Syrian territory of Kurdish armed formations under a 2019 agreement with Turkey, thus forcing Ankara's unilateral actions against terrorists in the region, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

On Sunday, Ankara conducted an air operation against the Syrian wing of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), outlawed in Turkey, in northern Syria. Erdogan called the operation a success and admitted the possibility of conducting an additional ground operation soon.

"We also have the 2019 Sochi agreement with Russia. They (Russians) are responsible for clearing the region of terrorists. Unfortunately, although we have repeatedly reminded them of this, they have not done and are not doing it. We have said we will not keep silent and will take steps against terrorists there, if they cannot do it themselves," Erdogan told reporters.

In particular, Ankara is considering the continuation of its recent operation in northern Syria, the Turkish leader said.

"We have done everything necessary from the ground and from the air. We will continue to do this," Erdogan stressed.

Earlier on Tuesday, the 19th round of negotiations on Syria started in the Kazakh capital of Astana, with Turkey, Russia and Iran acting as guarantor countries for the negotiations.

The war in Syria has been going on since 2011, with President Bashar Assad's forces fighting various armed insurgent groups. Since 2016, the Turkish armed forces have been also conducting air and ground operations in Syria against the PKK, which wants to establish a Kurdish autonomy in Turkey.

In 2017, Russia, Turkey and Iran launched a mediation group on the Syrian settlement in Astana. In January 2018, the Russian city of Sochi hosted a congress of the Syrian national dialogue, the first such attempt since the start of the conflict to gather an inclusive pool of Syrian political forces. The main result of the Congress was the decision to create a Constitutional Committee, which operates in Geneva and whose main task is to prepare a constitutional reform in Syria.

In October 2019, Moscow and Ankara also signed a 10-point memorandum of understanding, which provided for the introduction of the Russian military police and the Syrian border service to Syria's border with Turkey, outside the zone of the Turkish operation Peace Spring. The measure was aimed at facilitating the withdrawal of Kurdish detachments and their weapons 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from the Syrian-Turkish border.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in late October 2019 that the withdrawal of Kurdish formations had been completed ahead of schedule. After that, a joint Russian-Turkish patrol started.

Damascus has repeatedly called the presence of Turkish forces on the Syrian border illegal and urged Ankara to withdraw its troops. This is despite the fact that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), based on the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and supported by the US military, have established control over parts of the Syrian provinces of Al Hasakah, Raqqa, Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor, where the largest Syrian oil and gas fields are located. Damascus does not recognize the autonomy of the administration in northeastern Syria.