Syrian army to deploy along Turkish border in deal with Kurdish-led forces

This picture taken on October 13, 2019 shows smoke rising from the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain as fighting rages along the border on the fifth day of a Turkish offensive in Syria. (AFP)

The Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria said on Sunday it has agreed with the Syrian government for the Syrian army to be deployed along the Syrian-Turkish border.

The army deployment would also allow for the liberation of other Syrian cities occupied by the Turkish army such as Afrin, a statement said.

Earlier, state media said that the Syrian army has begun deploying its troops to northern Syria battlefronts to “confront the Turkish aggression” on Syrian territory.

The Syrian army will enter the SDF-held town of Ain Arab (Kobani) and Manbij within 48 hours following an agreement between the two sides, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Reuters also confirmed the report citing the Lebanese broadcaster al-Mayadeen which reported that the Syrian army would deploy within 48 hours to the town of Kobani which is held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and the nearby town of Manbij which is controlled by SDF-aligned forces.

The towns fall within a swathe of northern Syria controlled by the SDF that is currently being targeted in an offensive by Turkey and Turkey-backed Syrian militant groups.

The Syrian government and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have been holding negotiations at a Russian airbase in Syria, a Syrian Kurdish politician told Reuters on Sunday, expressing hope for a deal that would halt a Turkish attack.

Ahmed Suleiman, a senior member of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria, said the talks were being held at Russia’s Hmeimim airbase in Latakia.

He did not say if he or his party - which is independent from the SDF - had a role in the negotiations.

Asked about Suleiman’s comments, the head of the SDF media office Mustafa Bali said “no comment.” “We have confirmed from the start of the (Turkish) invasion that we will study all options that could spare our people ethnic cleansing,” he said.

Syrian government officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Suleiman said he hoped for an agreement between the sides that would “halt the ongoing war and especially its catastrophic and dangerous consequences.”

He said the talks could be moved to Damascus, from where he was speaking to Reuters via Whatsapp messenger.

“We are now in Damascus, this is what I can say at present. We hope an agreement is reached that halts the war and its dangerous and catastrophic consequences on the citizens east of the Euphrates.”

His party, one of Syria’s oldest Kurdish groups, is not involved in the autonomous administration set up by the SDF and other Kurdish groups such as the PYD party in northern Syria.

Russia is President Bashar al-Assad’s most powerful ally.

RELATED: US preparing to withdraw all remaining troops from northern Syria

In a related development, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that at least 26 civilians were killed in northeastern Syria as Turkey stepped up its offensive against Kurdish forces.

Among the casualties were 10 people killed in an air strike that hit a convoy of vehicles carrying civilians and journalists, the UK-based war monitor said.

Earlier, the war monitor put the tally at 24 civilians.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) gained back control over most of the border city of Ras al-Ain, in a counterattack which killed 17 from Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces, said the war monitor.

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Last Update: 19:32 KSA 22:32 - GMT 19:32
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