Russian forces move in near Syrian-Turkish border

A convoy of Russian military vehicles drives toward the northeastern city of Kobani, Syria, on Wednesday. — AFP

MOSCOW — Russian military forces crossed the Euphrates River in Syria and moved into positions near the border with Turkey, the defense ministry said on Wednesday, under a deal for the withdrawal of Kurdish forces.

The ministry said in a statement that a convoy of Russian military police had crossed the river at noon (0900 GMT) and "advanced toward the Syrian-Turkish border".

The deal, reached between Russia and Turkey on Tuesday, will see Russian military police and Syrian border guards "facilitate the removal" of Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters and their weapons from within 30 km (18 miles) of the border.

This withdrawal must be finalized within 150 hours.

The defense ministry published a map showing where 15 Syrian checkpoints would be set up along the border.

News agency RIA Novosti quoted the ministry as saying military police had met with officials from the border town of Kobane and were due to start patrolling there.

The Turkey-Russia agreement was reached after marathon talks between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Vladimir Putin in Russia on Tuesday.

It will also see Turkey preserve a "safe zone" inside Syria about 120 km long (75 miles) and 32 km deep. Russia and Turkey will eventually launch joint patrols along the zone. — AFP