SDF accepts Moscow-brokered ceasefire, withdrawing from Turkish border

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Sunday said it has accepted the ceasefire agreement brokered by Russia and Turkey last week in Sochi and agreed to completely withdraw its Kurdish-led force from the Syria-Turkey border.

The Kurdish-led force has begun withdrawing to a position 32 km from the border, as demanded by Ankara, pro-Kurdish news agency Rudaw quoted SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali as saying. 

“After a few days of dialogue and discussion between our general commander and the Russian government and army, and in accordance with the Sochi Agreement, and in order to protect the security of the region, and halting the dangers of an invasion and a new conflict in the region, our forces, under the guarantor of Russia, are withdrawing from the region as deep as 32 km from the border,” Bali said.

The deal between Moscow and Ankara on Tuesday halted Turkey’s military operation, which began on Oct. 9, into territories controlled by the SDF in northern Syria.

Turkey sees the SDF and its affiliate the People Protection Units (YPG) as extensions of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Ankara accepted a 150-hour ceasefire to let Russian and Syrian government forces facilitate the SDF’s withdrawal to 30 km south along the Turkish border.

“After extensive discussions with the Russian Federation on our previous objection to some terms of the memorandum, we agreed to the implementation of the deal, based on the Sochi Agreement of October 22, 2019, to stop the Turkish aggression on northeastern Syria,” the SDF said in a statement.

“Our forces in the border zone are being replaced by border guards of the central government,” the statement said.