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Where the Russia-Turkey deal leaves players on the ground

The initial glow of the Putin-Erdogan deal has faded, and the parties are now in for some on-the-ground challenges.
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On Oct. 29, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu informed his Turkish counterpart about the earlier-than-expected withdrawal of Kurdish armed groups from the 30 kilometer security zone along the Syrian-Turkish border. “Both Syrian border guards and Russian military police have entered the area,” Shoigu said. The next day, however, Shoigu conceded that implementation of the Russian-Turkish memorandum on Syria signed Oct. 22 by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi faced some challenges.

Shoigu did not specify what kind of difficulties the parties were experiencing, but just before Russian and Turkish troops met up at the Darbasiyah border crossing in Hasakah province, the zone had been assaulted by Turkish artillery, with Syrian TV reporting that six people had been injured due to the shelling. Russia’s Reconciliation Center for the Opposing Sides Parties in the Syria Arab Republic later refuted this narrative, asserting that an unidentified party had detonated an explosive and calling the incident a “provocation.” Moreover, despite a cease-fire, occasional clashes continued between the Turkey-supported Syrian National Army (SNA) and Syrian government forces and between the SNA and Kurdish fighters.

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