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Russia to mediate deal between Syrian Kurds and Damascus

With the Syrian Democratic Forces having handed over control of the Syrian-Turkish border to Damascus, the Kurds say Russia has promised to mediate a new round of negotiations between them and Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during their meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia May 17, 2018. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. - UP1EE5H1HAAE8

After leaving locals in northeastern Syria in the dark until two days before the end of a six-day day cease-fire, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) released a statement on Oct. 27 agreeing to the most controversial term of a Turkish-Russian agreement worked out in Sochi and signed Oct. 22: The SDF would withdraw 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the Turkish border. Immediately after the announcement, the SDF began to redeploy from positions along the 273-mile Turkey-Syria border to make room for joint Russian-Turkish patrols 10 kilometers (6 miles), inside Syrian territory, while Damascus took control along the border.

The decision to withdraw came as a surprise. Only one day before, Fanar al-Gait, deputy co-chair of foreign relations for the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (NES), had told Al-Monitor, “The Turkish-Russian deal includes a number of conditions we refuse to fulfill, such as the withdrawal of our security forces 30 kilometers from the border.”

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