Publish dateWednesday 23 October 2019 - 11:53
Story Code : 193775
Syria will continue to fight terrorism by all legitimate means: Assad
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has emphasized his complete refusal of any invasion of Syrian land under any pretext, noting that Syria will continue to fight terrorism by all legitimate means.
Speaking in a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin late on Tuesday, Assad thanked the Russian leader for reaching an agreement with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to establish "a safe-zone" in northeastern Syria and conduct joint patrols in the area after marathon talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
The Syrian president also “expressed his full support for the results of the work, as well as the readiness of the Syrian border guards, together with the Russian military police, to reach the Syrian-Turkish border.”
Putin, for his part, briefed Assad on the results of his talks with Erdogan, and highlighted that the main provision of the memorandum of understanding agreed upon during the meeting was to restore the territorial integrity of Syria and to continue joint efforts concerning Syria’s political settlement, especially the work within the framework of the country’s constitutional committee.
The Russian president told Assad that any agreement between Turkey and Russia will focus on fighting all kinds of terrorism and dismantle any separatist agendas on the Syrian land.
Earlier in the day, Putin and Erdogan signed a memorandum of understanding, stating that Kurdish forces must withdraw from a Turkish-ruled "safe zone" in northeast Syria within 150 hours, after which Ankara and Moscow will run joint patrols around the area.
The announcement was made hours before a United States-brokered five-day truce between Turkish and Kurdish-led forces was due to expire. 
On October 9, Turkish military forces and Ankara-backed militants launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion of northeast Syria in a declared attempt to push Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas.
Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984. The YPG constitutes the backbone of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The Kurdish-led administration in northeastern Syria says the Turkish offensive has killed 218 civilians, including 18 children, since its outset. The fighting has also wounded more than 650 people.
Turkish authorities say 20 people have been killed in Turkey by strikes from Syria, including eight people who were killed in a mortar attack on the town of Nusaybin by YPG militants on October 11.
On October 17, US Vice President Mike Pence said Washington and Ankara had agreed on a five-day ceasefire in Turkey's attacks on Kurdish fighters in the region. 
The agreement followed negotiations between Pence and Erdogan at the presidential palace in Ankara.
Pence said Ankara would pause its offensive, dubbed Operation Peace Spring, for 120 hours in order to allow YPG militants to withdraw 30 kilometers from the Turkey-Syria border.
Once the withdrawal is complete, “Operation Peace Spring will be halted entirely,” Pence told reporters.
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