Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkish-Russian joint military patrols will begin Friday in notheastern Syria, after the withdrawal of Syrian Kurdish fighters under an agreement between the two countries.
“We will start the joint work on the ground on Friday,” Erdogan said Wednesday in a nationally televised speech.
The agreement calls for Turkish and Russian patrols to begin in northeastern Syria after Kurdish militia forces met a nearly four-day deadline that ended Tuesday to pull out from the area.
The deal to divide control of the area between Turkey and Russia was reached last week in the Russian Black Sea resort town of Sochi.
Russia’s defense minister said Tuesday that tens of thousands of the Syrian Kurdish fighters had completed their pullout from the area.
Erdogan said, however, he has information that “points to the fact” the pullout “wasn’t fully achieved.”
Erdogan said Turkey will have “the necessary response” to the situation in northeastern Syria “after we carry out work in the field.”
The recent Turkish invasion of the area ended following the agreement, but Erdogan emphasized that Turkey “reserves the right to carry out its own operation” if it finds any Syrian Kurdish forces or if his troops are attacked.
The Kurdish-led forces had been close U.S. allies during a five-year military campaign to oust the Islamic State in Syria.
Earlier this month, U.S. President Trump abruptly announced the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the area, paving the way for the Turkish offensive.
The Kurds have since sought protection from the Russian and Syrian governments.