Russia Says Hundreds of Additional Troops Sent to Syria

Justin Morgan
By Justin Morgan
October 25, 2019Internationalshare
Russia Says Hundreds of Additional Troops Sent to Syria
Russian forces patrol near the city of Qamishli, in northeastern Syria, on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad)

After a deal between Moscow and Ankara, Russia has sent hundreds of additional troops to Syria to help patrol the country’s Turkey-Syria border, said the Russian Defense Ministry on Friday.

The ministry claims that around 300 military police have arrived in Syria to patrol the northeastern areas along the border with Turkey and oversee the pullout of Syrian Kurdish fighters from there.

Included in the deployment of troops were 20 armored vehicles sent via cargo plane for the mission, it added.

After Turkish forces invaded northeastern Syria this month—which, according to the BBC, began after President Donald Trump announced an unexpected withdrawal of US troops from Northern Syria—Moscow and Ankara struck a deal to split control of the region.

FILE PHOTO: Russian and Syrian national flags flutter on military vehicles near Manbij
Russian and Syrian national flags flutter on military vehicles near Manbij, Syria, Oct. 15, 2019. (Reuters/Omar Sanadiki/File Photo)

Along with a larger piece of the border in the northwest that Turkey already holds, captured during previous invasions, Turkey now has control over a significant chunk of northeastern Syria.

On Friday, Russia said the additional troops dispatched to Syria came from Chechnya, a Russian region that saw two devastating separatist wars in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, before Moscow regained control.

Troops from Chechnya, known for their fierce warrior spirit, have regularly been sent to Syria on rotation bases in recent years.

The Russian military has not released the total number of troops currently stationed in Syria, nor has it disclosed how many it will use in the patrol mission on the Turkish border.

Under the Moscow-Ankara deal, Turkish forces will keep sole control of a large section in the center of the Syria-Turkey border area, focused on driving the U.S.-allied Kurdish forces out of a “safe zone” along the border.

According to CNS News, the Syrian government along with Russian military police, will control the rest of the 273 mile border. Their focus will be to ensure that Syrian Kurdish fighters withdraw from a 19 mile strip of Syrian Territory adjacent to the border.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian military has been in close contact with the Syrian Kurdish fighters, doing a “delicate job” of coordinating their pullout from the border areas. He also noted that Failure by the Kurdish forces to abide by the deal, would put them in trouble.

“If the Kurdish units with their weapons aren’t pulled back from that zone, they will regrettably be left face to face with the Turkish military because (Syrian) border guards and Russian military police wouldn’t stand between them,” he said in a conference call with reporters.

A large wedge of eastern Syria remains in the hands of the Kurdish-led fighters. That includes the bulk of Syria’s oil fields, which deprives Damascus of control over a crucial resource and gives the Syrian Kurds a major bargaining chip. Trump has said some U.S. troops will remain there to help Kurds “secure” the oil fields.

UN Syria
The Security Council meets in Syria at the United Nations headquarters, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Pentagon chief Mark Esper said the U.S. is also considering sending troops and armored vehicles into the area around the oil fields in northeastern Syria to ensure that IS militants do not get access to the oil.

All sides have vowed to abide by a cease-fire under the Russian-Turkish deal, but Syria’s state-run SANA reported an attack by Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels on Syrian army positions on Thursday, outside the town of Tal Tamr.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed a threat Thursday to resume the military offensive if his country continued to be “harassed” by the Kurdish militia.

The Turkish offensive is said to have triggered new flows of refugees. The United Nations refugee agency said that so far more than 10,100 Syrian refugees, mostly women and children, have crossed into Iraq seeking safety.

It also estimated that some 180,000 people have been displaced across Syria’s northeastern region.

AP Contributed to this report.

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