Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian president Vladimir Putin spoke by phone on Monday to discuss issues including Turkey’s planned militay campaign into north Syria.
The Turkish presidency later said in a statement:
“Erdoğan said that the terror-free zone with a depth of 30 kilometers from the Turkish border, as had been stated in the memorandum of understanding of October 2019, was not established, and that it was imperative to make these areas secure.”
The mentioned ‘memorandum of understanding of October 2019’ states that Russian military and Syrian border guards ‘will facilitate the removal of YPG elements’ along the Turkish-Syrian border ‘outside the area of ‘Operation Peace Spring’ to the depth of 30 km from the border.
Turkish authorities view YPG (People’s Defence Units), that constitute the major component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which operates as the ground force in the international coalition’s ongoing campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS), as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
‘Operation Peace Sring’
The Turkish military occupied an area of 4,820 square kilometres in the campaign that began on 9 October 2019, with 600 settlements, including Ras al-Ayn (Serê Kaniyê), Tell Abyad (Girê Spî), Manajir, Suluk, Mabrouka, and cut the M4 highway.
The campaign resulted in the displacement of over 300,000 people and caused the death of more than 90 civilians. Human rights violations were reported.
Amnesty International stated that it gathered evidence of war crimes and other violations committed by Turkey and Turkish-backed armed groups who are said to ‘have displayed a shameful disregard for civilian life, carrying out serious violations and war crimes, including summary killings and unlawful attacks that killed and injured civilians.’