02:49 GMT06 December 2020
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    A Turkish offensive against the Syrian Kurds, which followed the announcement of the US withdrawal from the area, was put on hold in the region close to the border crossing until 23 October under a deal brokered by Ankara and Washington.

    American forces have gone to western Iraq from Syria as part of their withdrawal from the north of the Arab Republic, Reuters reported. According to the news agency, over 100 US military vehicles have already gone through the Sahela border crossing into the Iraqi province of Dohuk.

    US Defence Secretary Mark Esper had previously stated that around 1,000 American troops leaving northern Syria, would be redeployed to Iraq to "help defend" it and to fight a possible Daesh* resurgence there. Prior to the withdrawal, the US struck a deal with Turkey to suspend the latter's military operation against local Kurds in the area near the border crossing.

    © AP Photo / Baderkhan Ahmad
    American military convoy stops near the town of Tel Tamr, north Syria, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019.

    Washington announced its plans to pull out its forces from northern Syria days prior to Ankara launching its "Peace Spring" military operation against formerly US-backed Kurdish militia controlling this area. The US move was heavily criticised domestically with politicians accusing President Donald Trump of "betraying Kurdish allies", who helped Washington to fight Daesh*. Trump defended his decision by arguing that the US must stop participating in "endless wars".

    After the US withdrawal, the Kurdish militia negotiated an agreement with Damascus and Moscow for Syrian government forces to secure the border with Turkey and protect them from Ankara's offensive.

    Members of the special forces of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are pictured during preparations to join the front against Turkish forces, on October 10, 2019
    © AFP 2020 / Delil Souleiman
    Members of the special forces of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are pictured during preparations to join the front against Turkish forces, on October 10, 2019

    Ankara launched its military operation claiming it wanted to clear the territory of SDF, mainly comprised of YPG fighters, which Ankara considers to be affiliated with the PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation in Turkey.

    The operation has been condemned by both western and Arab states alike, but despite their calls to cease it, Ankara refused to do so, calling it a matter of national security. Russia expressed concern with regard to the operation, calling on Turkey to preserve Syria's territorial integrity. Turkey recently halted its military operation, giving Kurdish forces 120 hours to leave to leave 30 kilometre-wide "safe zone" near the Turkish border. Ankara claims to be ready to finish the operation, if no Kurdish forces are left in this zone.

    *Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia


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