Turkey has evacuated seven military observation posts in northwest Syria, pulling back troops from territory controlled by the Syrian government to areas held by insurgents and Turkey-backed rebels, a Turkish source said on Friday.
For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app
Turkey had set up a dozen military posts in the region in 2018 as part of an ill-fated deal it reached with Russia and Iran to calm fighting between Syrian government troops and rebels. Ankara backs the forces fighting Bashar al-Assad, while Moscow and Tehran back the Syrian president.
Turkish soldier dies in north Syria during clashes with Kurdish militia
Several Turkish military posts were surrounded last year by the Russian-backed Syrian government forces. Turkey vowed at the time to maintain its presence at all of them but it started withdrawing in October.
The source, who requested anonymity, said the last of the evacuations was completed on Thursday night, and the forces were being redeployed within territory controlled by the Ankara-backed forces under an understanding reached with Russia.
“It is not in the form of troop withdrawal or reducing their numbers. The situation is just about changing location,” the source said.
Syrian rebels say Turkey retains between 10,000 and 15,000 troops in northwest Syria, alongside rebel fighters backed by Turkey and militant forces it has committed to disarm and contain.
Already home to nearly 4 million Syrian refugees, Turkey is determined to prevent further influx of people fleeing fighting.
The United Nations says there are about 4 million people in northwest Syria outside Syrian government control, of which 2.7 million have been displaced during the nine-year conflict.
- Turkey says France must change stance on Syria operations to improve ties
- Clashes in Syria leave 11 Turkey-backed gunmen dead: Monitor
- Turkey prepares to pull back from second military post in northwest Syria: Sources
- Syria: Turkey-backed fighters retaliate against regime-allied forces
- Russian strike kills 78 Turkey-backed fighters in Syria's Idlib
- Turkey evacuates one of their largest military bases in northwest Syria
- Turkey gives up, withdraws from military post in NW Syria: Sources
- Turkey slams ‘arrogant’ EU calls urging withdrawal from Syria
- Egypt will not stand hands tied facing Turkey’s ambitions in Syria, Iraq, Libya: FM
- Russia, Turkey halt military patrols in Syria’s Idlib over militant attacks