The new 'safe zone' appears so far no guarantee for peace in Northeast Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan disputes the Russian promise that Kurdish fighters have left the area. He says that Turkey will eliminate any laggards on its own initiative. In the meantime, Reuters news agency reports that there are battles between Turkish militias and President Bashar Al Assad's Syrian army on Wednesday.
The agreement between Russia and Turkey on the 30-kilometer "safe zone" followed a five-day ceasefire negotiated by the Americans. Because of the safe zone, there has been a relative shelter in the fighting so far, but the question is whether this will soon come to an end.
Turkish troops are said to have been fighting with Al Assad's Syrian army, the Syrian state broadcaster reports and confirm militias supported by Turkey. After the departure of the Americans from the area, the Assad army entered into an alliance with the Kurds to stop a possible Turkish advance.
Russia reported Tuesday after the deadline that Kurdish fighters are no longer in the safe zone, but Erdogan questions this. He says he has information that there are still fighters from the YPG militia in the area. Erdogan sees this group as a terrorist organization and a threat to Turkish state security.
Kurds fear both Syrian army and Turkey
Turkey and Russia will conduct joint patrols in the area on Friday. If it turns out that there are still hostile elements in the area, Turkey will reserve the right to "undertake our own operations," Erdogan told the Turkish parliament.
After the departure of US troops from the area, the Kurdish population appears to be trapped between Turkey and the Syrian army. Local Kurds say they fear The Washington Post for both parties, because the Syrian army may see them as traitors and seperatists. Arab and Turkmen militia supported by Turkey would also be strongly anti-Kurdish. More than 200,000 residents in the area are now displaced.
See also: Five questions about the "American betrayal" of the Kurds in northern Syria
American troops saw war crimes
Images coming from the area seem to show that Kurdish fighters are mutilated and summaryly executed by these Turkish militias, writes The Guardian. US troops would also have witnessed war crimes committed by Turkish militias, the US Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey previously argued against Congress.
The Kurdish population may also fear revenge because of the treatment of Arab residents in the area. Human rights organizations Amnesty and Euro-Med wrote about, among other things, executions by Kurdish militias and the destruction of villages of Arab residents in 2015.
US Army protects oil fields in East Syria
US President Donald Trump withdrew earlier this month after a telephone conversation with Erdogan the American troops from Northeast Syria. Critics spoke of "betrayal" against the Kurds, who for a long time acted as shock troops in the American struggle against the Islamic State (IS)
Trump promised to send the American troops home. On Monday, US defense minister Mark T. Esper reported that the troops are going to oil fields in eastern Syria to protect them from IS. Large groups of IS fighters were reportedly escaped from Kurdish prisons after the Turkish invasion.
50Syrians pelt American vehicles to leave the region
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