Russia and Turkey allegedly signed a secret deal allowing Turkish-backed militants to attack the US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria in exchange for Turkey abandoning Idlib, Nordic Monitor reported on August 9th.
— Nordic Monitor (@nordicmonitor) August 8, 2019
The outlet based its report on a supposed claim by a senior Turkish opposition member of parliament. The Nordic Monitor obtained a copy of a parliamentary question by Ünal Çeviköz, deputy chairperson of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
As per the question, Turkey and Russia signed a secret agreement allowing Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces to attack areas controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.
The former ambassador Çeviköz said that in return, Turkey agreed to withdraw all of its troops and equipment from Idlib.
The question itself dates even earlier – to May 6th, 2019.
Çeviköz submitted his question asking Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu if the claim was true. A response was rejected, but as per law he was required to provide an answer within 2 weeks from May 6th.
Çeviköz further accused the Turkish government of interfering in Syria’s domestic politics and sought information on a possible date for direct contact with Syria.
He further asked about security measures to stop terrorists from entering Turkey after leaving Idlib and a way to separate radical groups from “moderate opposition” in line with the Astana/Sochi process to resolve the Syrian conflict.
Turkey has long sought to seek international support, or at least approval, for a possible sweeping operation against the YPG (and the US-backed SDF) in northern Syria. Th US has repeatedly said that the Kurdish militias (the core of the SDF) are its allies and should be protected, thus it wouldn’t be a surprise for Turkey to turn to Russia.
According to the Nordic Monitor, the alleged deal is a way to force US into agreeing to the Turkish operation, after Moscow agrees.
On August 7th, the Turkish Defense Ministry and the US Embassy in Turkey released a joint statement announcing plans to cooperate in the establishment of a safe zone in northern Syria.
— US Embassy Turkey (@USEmbassyTurkey) August 7, 2019
According to Nordic Monitor, this is the US attempted to counter the deal with Russia.
A July 26th Human Rights Watch report claimed that Turkey was detaining hundreds of Syrians and forcibly returning them to Idlib and the northern Aleppo Governorate through the Cilvegözü/Bab al-Hawa border crossing.
The report of the Russian-Turkish agreement could potentially be partially true, but it is unclear how it is being implemented.
The Syrian Army is currently working to eliminate militants in the area of Khan Shaykhun in southern Idlib and liberate norhern Hama. Further developments, including Ankara’s reaction to these developments, would allow to get more details on the real Russia-Turkey agreements on the situation in the idlib zone.
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