Turkey will withdraw its troops from Syria when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan fulfils his goal of fighting against what Turkey considers to be terrorist groups, Russia’s special envoy for Syria Aleksandr Lavrentyev told reporters on Tuesday.
Only Syrian troops should be located on the border between Syria and Turkey, Lavrentyev said, recalling Russia’s position on the matter, Sputnik Turkish reported.
On the agreement reached between the Syrian government and the majority-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Lavrentyev said the Syrian army entered the town of Manbij, but it was too early to speak of Damascus expanding its control in the north.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring into the SDF-held north-east Syrian territory on Oct. 9, following the country’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan receiving a tacit green light from U.S. President Donald Trump.
Turkey aims to take over the land controlled by the SDF, to set up a buffer zone along its border and resettle Syrian refugees it currently hosts.
Lavrentyev said according to the Adana agreement, Turkey can enter Syria but cannot set up a permanent presence. The envoy also expressed Russia’s objection to permanent Turkish deployment.
The agreement allows Turkey to enter 5 kilometres into Syrian territory as part of efforts against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has been engaged in a bloody conflict with the country for over three decades.
Russia doesn’t have information on how many ISIS members have escaped, out of the 12,000 estimated to be in prisons in north-east Syria without counting their families, Lavrentyev said.