Syrian Kurds say they are withdrawing from area near Turkish border

Syrian Kurds say they are withdrawing from area near Turkish border
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Syrian Kurds announced on Sunday that their forces are leaving the Turkish border area, Reuters reported.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) made this announcement after Turkey and Russia came to an agreement last week under which Syrian guards and Russia military police would patrol a 19-mile zone along Syria’s border with Turkey. The countries gave the SDF until Tuesday to retreat, Reuters noted. 

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“The SDF is redeploying to new positions away from the Turkish-Syrian border across northeast Syria in accordance with the terms of the (Erdogan-Putin) agreement in order to stop the bloodshed and to protect the inhabitants of the region from Turkish attacks,” the SDF said in a statement, according to the news service.

The SDF also implored Russia to help make sure “a constructive dialogue” takes place between the Kurdish-led administration in northeast Syria and the Syrian government run by President Bashar al-Assad.

For the first time in years, Assad’s troops will be able to return to the border areas, Reuters noted.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported that Assad’s government accepted the SDF retreat, saying it gets rid of “the main pretext for flagrant Turkish aggression on (Syrian) territory,” according to Reuters. 

The Syrian government plans to assist residents reach “a return to Syrian national unity,” SANA added.

Turkey launched its offensive into Syria against the Kurdish forces after President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE announced the removal of U.S. troops from the area. Lawmakers criticized the president for his decision, worried that the SDF, which helped the U.S. fight ISIS, would perceive the withdrawal as a betrayal. 

U.S. officials worked with Turkey on a temporary cease-fire before Russia and Turkey reached its arrangement regarding the land that Kurdish forces had held for years.