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Russia to deploy more military policemen, equipment to Syria

Russian soldiers walk past a Russian military police armored vehicle at a position in Ayn al-Arab, Syria, on October 23, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

A Russian official says the country will send more military policemen and equipment to Syria under a deal with Turkey that suspended the offensive against Kurdish militants along the border.

Russia's RIA news agency quoted an unnamed Defense Ministry source as saying on Thursday that Moscow would dispatch a further 276 military policemen and 33 units of military hardware to Syria in a week.

Earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, unveiled a 10-point memorandum of understanding following lengthy talks in Sochi on the situation in northeastern Syria.

Under the deal, which put Turkey’s offensive on hold, Russian military police and Syrian border guards entered the northern border regions to facilitate the removal of YPG militants and their weapons to a depth of 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Syria’s frontier with Turkey.

Once the process is complete, within 150 hours, Turkish and Russian soldiers will begin joint patrols of the entire border area to a depth of 10 kilometers (six miles) with the exception of the border city of Qamishli in Hasakah Province.

In another development on Thursday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin said Kurdish militants have begun withdrawing from areas near the Turkish-Syrian border.

"We note with satisfaction that the agreements reached in (the southern Russian city of) Sochi are being implemented," Russia's Intrefax news agency quoted Vershinin as saying. "Everything is being implemented."

Syrian and Russian media showed footage of Russian military police vehicles on the outskirts of the Syrian border cities of Manbij and Ayn al-Arab on Wednesday. Russian patrols were also reported to have begun inside Manbij.

On October 9, Turkey launched the military operation against Washington’s longtime Kurdish allies in northern Syria after the US announced a sudden withdrawal of its troops from the region.

On October 17, Turkey agreed to a US-brokered truce, under which it paused the offensive for five days to allow the withdrawal of Kurdish militants. The Ankara-Moscow deal was announced shortly before the expiry of that deadline.

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