Russian forces arriving to deconflict in northern Syria. Photo: YPG
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Russian Military Police have been deployed to maintain a deconfliction zone and prevent clashes between Kurdish forces and Turkish-backed forces in northern Syria.
Turkey and its allied Free Syrian Army (FSA) elements stepped up activities around Afrin canton and al-Shahba province over the summer, resulting in frequent and sometimes deadly clashes with the Kurdish YPG and local forces.
“[T]o prevent provocations and possible conflicts between the FSA units in the north of Syria and the Kurdish militia, the deconfliction zone in the Tell Rifaat area was established under the auspices of the Russian centre for reconciliation,” Col. Gen. Sergei Surovikin, commander of Russian forces in Syria, said in a press briefing on Wednesday.
Tell Rifaat is located about 25 kilometres north of Aleppo.
The YPG had announced last week that a deal was in place
for Russia to “maintain security” in the area, deploying military observers to Afrin and al-Shahba in northwestern Syria.
Syrian army forces “replaced the Kurdish armed formations that had left this region,” Surovikin explained. “To preclude possible provocations, and maintain the cease-fire regime in the deconfliction zone, the Russian Military Police unit has been deployed in the area.”
This is not the first time Kurdish forces have coordinated with Russia to ease tensions or create a buffer with the Turkish army and FSA elements in northern Syria. In March, control of several villages near Manbij
was handed over to Syrian forces in a deal brokered by Russia.