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A Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) soldier preparing to join the front against the Turkish forces on October 10, 2019, near Hasaké in northern Syria. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP

Syrian Kurds on Sunday (October 13th) announced that they have reached an agreement with Damascus on the deployment of the Syrian army near the Turkish border. Objective: to support the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Contacts had resumed between the two parties via Russia since the launch of the Ankara offensive on Wednesday.

There is no doubt that the announcement of the Kurdish administration will mark a turning point and reshuffle the cards in the Syrian conflict. Damascus will send its troops to Kurdish- controlled territory - and at their request - to help them repel Ankara's aggression .

The discussions that led to the agreement took place at the Russian Air Base in Hmeimim, Latakia province, between representatives of the Syrian government and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a movement dominated by the Kurds, and in particular the Units. People's Protection (YPG).

If the Kurds turned to Damascus, it is because they were abandoned by the Americans . Washington has announced Sunday the withdrawal of a thousand of its soldiers from northern Syria, almost all forces in the country.

The Syrian-Kurdish agreement had nothing obvious: until recently, the regime of Bashar al-Assad described the combatants of this minority as " traitors " for their alliance with Washington. Several observers had pointed out that the departure of the Americans would leave the field open to Russia and the Syrian regime.

" Painful compromise "

To justify this agreement between the Kurds and Damascus, the high-commander of SDS Mazloum Abdi said on Foreign Policy, an American magazine, that the Syrian regime and its Russian ally had " made proposals that could save the lives of millions ".

" We know we will have to make painful compromises," he admitted. But between the compromises and the genocide of our people, we will choose life. "

Just before the Turkish offensive, the Kurds had called on Russia to play a role of " guarantor " in the " dialogue " with the regime, which then said it was ready to " welcome its lost children into its lap ."

Now, the SDF hopes that the Syrian army will help them liberate all the localities occupied by the Turkish military and their allies since the beginning of this offensive. In recent years, the Kurds have established de facto autonomy over vast areas of northern and northeastern Syria.

Syrian troop movements

The Turkish offensive, launched five days ago in favor of a US withdrawal and despite strong international criticism, aims to establish a "security zone" 32 km deep to separate its border territories controlled by the YPG , a militia called " terrorist " by Ankara.

This "zone" is likely to accommodate some of the 3.6 million Syrians currently refugees in Turkey, one of the many consequences of the conflict that has ravaged Syria since 2011.

On the ground, a movement of Syrian troops has been reported to Manbij and possibly to Kobane, two cities threatened by Turkey. It remains to be seen whether Ankara will go against the will of Moscow, which remains the master of the game in Syria.

Turkish forces seize Tal Abyad

The agreement comes at the right time for the SDF, as Turkish forces and their Syrian allies on Sunday captured the border town of Tal Abyad in northern Syria, reports our Beirut correspondent Paul Khalifeh . It is the largest city conquered so far by Ankara's troops at the beginning of their offensive.

Despite the defection of many Arab elements of the FDS, the latter resisted strongly against the Turkish soldiers. But their lines of defense finally gave way under the firepower and large numbers engaged by the attackers.

The Turkish army and its Syrian auxiliaries also took control on Sunday of a major road in northeastern Syria linking Kurdish-controlled territory in the provinces of Raqqa and Hassake. The Turks and their allies cut off the M-4 highway, sinking 30 km deep.

The loss of control of this axis weakens the maneuverability of Kurdish fighters and compromises their supply routes. Journalists have seen dozens of Turkish armored vehicles stationed along the highway, which is the only access to the city of Kobani on the Syrian-Turkish border.

Kurdish fighters are also facing a difficult situation in the city of Ras al-Ain , virtually encircled by the Turkish army. It has seized 40 villages since Wednesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH).

Nearly 800 relatives of fleeing jihadists

This Sunday, Kurdish forces have also announced the escape of some 800 close jihadists of the Islamic State group in favor of the Turkish assault. At least 26 civilians were killed.

Since Wednesday, 104 Kurdish fighters and more than 60 civilians have been killed in the violence, according to a latest assessment of the OSDH. More than 130,000 people have been displaced according to the UN.

(With agencies)