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25 Oct, 2019 06:55

Extra 300 Russian military police arrive in Syria to patrol & ensure Kurdish pullout

Extra 300 Russian military police arrive in Syria to patrol & ensure Kurdish pullout

Around 300 Russian military police have been deployed to Syria from Chechnya – in Russia’s North Caucasus – to facilitate the withdrawal of Kurdish units from the Syrian border and carry out peacekeeping patrols.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced Friday the new units arrived to back up the existing military police contingent in Syria, stating that the group of highly-skilled and experienced servicemen will carry out “special tasks” in support of the deal struck between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Upon their deployment, the military police will patrol territory along the border, near the Turkish military’s Operation Peace Spring, and assist the “withdrawal of units of the Kurdish self-defense units and their armaments to a distance of 30km [18.6 miles] from the Syrian-Turkish border,” the ministry said.

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In addition to the boost in manpower, Moscow will also send in 33 new pieces of equipment to help them fulfill their mission. The ministry said Friday that about two dozen military vehicles – including all-terrain Tigr high-mobility multipurpose vehicles and mine-resistant Typhoon-U armored vehicles – are on their way to Russia’s Khmeimim Air Base in Syria.

Under the deal agreed by Putin and Erdogan on Tuesday after marathon talks in Sochi, the Turkish offensive that threatened to destabilize the war-torn country even further has been contained to an area up to 32km inside Syria. It was agreed that the territory not affected by the offensive would be jointly patrolled by Turkish and Russian servicemen, while Moscow volunteered to assist in the withdrawal of Kurdish forces who found themselves at the mercy of the Turkish Army after their American allies hastily withdrew from the area days before the large-scale offensive kicked off.

Moscow said that it’s up to the Kurds to hold their end of the bargain, warning that if the militias fail to pull out and withdraw their weapons, Russia and Syria would not be able to shield them from Ankara’s onslaught.

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However, every party, including the US and Kurds, seem to be pleased with how the situation has worked out. While US President Donald Trump nonchalantly took all the credit for the Syria border de-escalation, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) chief Mazloum Abdi thanked Russia for its role in diffusing the tension. Abdi pledged to “provide all kinds of help and assistance” to both Russian and Syrian forces, while expressing gratitude to Putin for “ensuring the safety of the Kurdish people.”

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