Erdogan hails ‘historic agreement’ with Putin over Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan give a joint press conference following their talks in the Black sea resort of Sochi. (AFP)
Updated 23 October 2019

Erdogan hails ‘historic agreement’ with Putin over Syria

  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan: According to this agreement, Turkey and Russia will not allow any separatist agenda on Syrian territory
  • Erdogan also announced a 150-hour deadline beginning on Wednesday for Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters and their weapons to be moved back 30 kilometers from the Turkish border

SOCHI, Russia: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hailed “a historic agreement” with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin after hours of talks between the two leaders over the conflict in Syria.
“According to this agreement, Turkey and Russia will not allow any separatist agenda on Syrian territory,” Erdogan said, addressing reporters alongside Putin after the talks in the Russian city of Sochi.
Erdogan also announced a 150-hour deadline beginning on Wednesday for Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters and their weapons to be moved back 30 kilometers from the Turkish border.
“Within 150 hours starting at 1200 noon on October 23, YPG terrorists and their weapons will be removed to the depth of 30 kilometers and their ... positions will be destroyed,” Erdogan said.
He added that after the deadline, Turkish and Russian joint patrols would start in two zones stretching 10 km to the east and west of the area of Turkey’s current Operation Peace Spring.
“All YPG terrorists in Tal Firat and Manbij will be removed outside this region, together with their weaponry,” he said.
Erdogan also said both countries would take necessary measures against “terrorist infiltrations” and create a “joint mechanism” to coordinate the agreement.


Taliban say prisoner swap promised by Kabul fails to happen

Updated 10 min 38 sec ago

Taliban say prisoner swap promised by Kabul fails to happen

  • The three Taliban prisoners included Anas Haqqani, the younger brother of the Taliban’s deputy chief Sirajuddin Haqqani, who leads the fearsome Haqqani militant network
  • They were to be exchanged for American University of Afghanistan professors, American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks

ISLAMABAD: Three Taliban prisoners who were to be freed in exchange for an American and an Australian national, both kidnapped in 2016, are still in custody in Bagram prison, north of the capital Kabul, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Friday.
The three Taliban prisoners did not show up at an exchange site that had been agreed upon with the US, though Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said they would be freed.
Mujahid had no explanation for the no-show.
The three Taliban prisoners included Anas Haqqani, the younger brother of the Taliban’s deputy chief Sirajuddin Haqqani, who leads the fearsome Haqqani militant network. They were to be exchanged for American University of Afghanistan professors, American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks.
Mujahid said the professors are still in Taliban custody.
In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, Ghani said the “conditional release” was a very hard decision to make.
Prisoner releases were a key point during peace talks between the US and Taliban last year. US President Donald Trump abruptly ended the talks in September, following a spate of violent attacks in Kabul that killed more than a dozen people, including a US soldier.
The prisoner exchange was seen as a possible door to restarting the talks. US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has crisscrossed the region in recent weeks meeting with Washington’s NATO allies, as well as Russia, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
President Ghani has repeatedly demanded his government be included in talks with the Taliban, who have refused saying the Afghan government is an American puppet.
Ghani is now in the middle of a controversial contest for his job as president following Afghanistan’s Sept. 28 elections, which drew allegations of widespread misconduct and fraud.
Preliminary results were supposed to be released on Thursday, but have once again been postponed.
Ghani had hoped a big win in the presidential polls would solidify his political position, but the recount of ballots has been challenged by his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power in Afghanistan’s coalition government.
That government was cobbled together after the 2014 presidential elections, which were so deeply overwhelmed by allegations of fraud that the United States stepped in to broker a power sharing agreement between Abdullah and Ghani.