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‘Thanks Russia!’: Kurdish military chief welcomes Russian peacekeeping patrols

Talks between the top Russian military officials and the commander-in-chief of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were held on Wednesday, via video link. Abdi discussed the ongoing developments in northeastern Syria with Shoigu and Russia’s Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov, expressing full support to the deployment of Russian military police and Syrian Army units into the region.

“Currently, units of the Russian military police and regular Syrian troops are being deployed into many locations. We are providing them with all kind of help and assistance,” Abdi said.

The SDF chief also expressed gratitude to Russia and President Vladimir Putin “for ensuring safety of the Kurdish people.” Abdi and Shoigu discussed the implementation of the deal reached by Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Russia’s defense minister specifically stressed that there was no need for civilians to leave their homes and that their safety will be ensured.

On Tuesday, Putin and Erdogan held lengthy talks in Russia’s resort of Sochi, coming up with an agreement regarding northeast Syria. As a result of the deal, Turkish military incursion dubbed ‘Operation Peace Spring’ has effectively come to an end, while Syrian troops and Russian military police are set to deploy to much of the Syrian-Turkish border. Kurdish-led militias – which Ankara believes to have strong ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – are to be fully withdrawn from a 30-km strip along the border.

Header: A convoy of Russian military vehicles drives toward the northeastern Syrian city of Kobane on October 23, 2019. Photo: AFP

In Kobane, people want a guarantee they will be protected against the Syrian militias that are Turkey’s fighting force on the ground. “Those mercenaries are even more dangerous than ISIL,” said a kurd, using another name for ISIS.

Several reports have emerged of these militias brutally killing civilians and desecrating the bodies of killed Kurdish fighters.

Kobane’s population fled once, when ISIS took control. About 70 percent of the city was destroyed in the battle and rebuilding their houses and businesses has been slow work with little international support. They don’t want to have to abandon their homes again. “They did their best and worked hard to rebuild their houses. They do not want to leave but if there is genocide and ethnic cleansing they will leave.”