Syrian Kurdish YPG to withdraw from strip along Turkish border
The Kurdish YPG militia will pull forces and heavy weapons from a strip along Syria’s border with Turkey under U.S.-Turkish deals, an official in the YPG-led alliance said on Tuesday.
The YPG withdrew from the Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain border positions in recent days, proving it is serious about ongoing talks, the Kurdish-led authority in north and east Syria said.
The withdrawal marks a sign of progress in talks between Washington and Ankara seeking to resolve deep differences over the presence along the border of Kurdish fighters - U.S. allies that Turkey sees as enemies.
After Ankara repeatedly warned it would launch a military incursion into northeast Syria targeting the YPG, Turkey and the United States said this month they had agreed on the first stages of a security deal along the border.
The two countries gave no details of the deal on what Turkey has called a “safe zone” inside Syria. It followed months of stalemate over how far the zone should extend into northeast Syria, still a main source of friction, and who should command forces patrolling it.
A senior Turkish official and a top Syrian Kurdish official said points of contention remained over the zone, which Turkey wants to extend 20 miles (32 km) into Syria.
The YPG spearheads the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, which controls much of north and east Syria. U.S. troops have been stationed in the region for years, training and arming the fighters who seized territory from Islamic State.
“These actions demonstrate a good-faith effort by the SDF that supports the implementation of the security mechanism framework,” said Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman.