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Syrian Kurds will withdraw from border in accordance with US deal

A senior Syrian Kurdish official said his forces will pull back from a border area in accordance with a US-brokered deal after Turkey allows the evacuation of its remaining fighters and civilians from a besieged town there.

Redur Khalil, a senior Syrian Democratic Forces official, said Saturday the plan for evacuation from the town of Ras al-Ayn was set for the following day, if there are no delays.

He said only after that will his force pull back from a 120-kilometer (75-mile) area between the towns of Ras al-Ain and Tal-Aybad. It will withdraw and move back from the border 30 kilometers (19 miles).

This is the first time the Kurdish force has publicly acknowledged it would withdraw from the border, saying it had coordinated it with the Americans. The agreement has not specified the area of its pullback.

Previous agreements between the US and Turkey over a “safe zone” along the Syria-Turkish border floundered over the diverging definitions of the area.

Khalil said a partial evacuation happened earlier Saturday from Ras al-Ain after much stalling and with US coordination.

Turkey had agreed to suspend its Syria offensive for five days to allow Kurdish forces to withdraw from a safe zone along the border.

But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned he will “crush the heads” of Kurdish forces if they did not pull back from the zone.

On Saturday, Turkey and Kurdish forces accused one another of violating the ceasefire agreement.

The Turkish offensive launched earlier this month has prompted hundreds of thousands to flee their homes in the latest humanitarian crisis of Syria’s eight-year civil war.

Header image: Members of the special forces of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are pictured during preparations to join the front against Turkish forces, on October 10, 2019, near the northern Syrian town of Hasakeh. (Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP)