Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has announced that the withdrawal of Kurdish militia forces from the safe zone in north-eastern region Syria has been completed ahead of schedule. He added that the region is now under the control of Syrian border guards and Russian military police.
Shoigu also revealed that Russian forces, along with their counterparts from Armenia, are conducting mine-sweeping activities in the region, having already cleared 100 square kilometres not only of mines, but also of various undetonated ordnances that could pose a threat to civilians.
Ankara halted its military operation, called "Peace Spring", giving the Kurds a limited timeframe to withdraw from their positions within the so-called safe-zone in northern Syria, east of the Euphrates. Ankara believes that the Kurdish YPG forces are linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey. Ankara said that the withdrawal of the Kurdish militia from northern Syria near the border with Turkey was a key precondition for halting its military operation.
Moscow and Ankara recently agreed during talks in Sochi that Russian military police and Syrian border guards would facilitate the YPG's withdrawal. Under the Sochi memorandum, Russian military police and Turkish forces would also jointly patrol a 10-kilometre wide zone to the east and west of Ankara’s recent military operation in Syria.