Turkish and Russian troops began conducting their first joint ground patrols innortheast Syria on Friday, a Turkish military source told Reuters.
Ankara and Moscow had agreed to conduct joint patrols in the region under a deal struck by President Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Erdogan said on Wednesday the patrols would be at a depth of 7 km (4 miles) in Syrian territory.
On Thursday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that he did not want to make an “enemy” of neighboring Turkey, despite the latter’s invasion having led to a confrontation between their forces.
Assad said that Turkish President Recep Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself was an “enemy” due to policies hostile to Syria and opposed by most of his country’s political elite.
But “we must ensure that we don’t turn Turkey into an enemy and here comes the role of friends,” such as Russia and Iran, the president said in a pre-recorded interview on state television.