The last week has seen repeated reports that Kurdish YPG units of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were retreating from northeast Syria away from Turkey’s southern border.
Official US military sources, including the press office of US Central Command (CENTCOM), have attempted to prove these reports by providing picture and video evidence showing the destruction of SDF positions near the Syrian-Turkish border.
On Friday, the Turkish Minister of Defense, Hulusi Akar, commented that Turkey had received reports about the YPG withdrawing from border positions east of the Euphrates River, but still wanted to “check” these areas to confirm the information for itself.
It remains unknown what Akar meant by “checking” the withdrawn from areas given that Turkish forces are apparently not even meant to be allowed to enter the region unless accompanied by the US military.
Furthermore, there are also claims that Turkish warplanes cannot enter Syrian airspace under the agreement.
In recent weeks, Ankara and Washington reached an agreement to prevent a full-scale Turkish military operation against the SDF in northeast Syria.
The offensive that nearly happened would have seen special forces and airpower assets of Turkey’s armed forces supporting a large Islamist invasion army numbering as many as 14,000 fighters.
The arrangement is, in theory, meant to see a multi-phased joint US-Turkish patrolled buffer zone created in northeast Syria that extends 14 kilometers south of Turkey’s border with the country – YPG fighters are reportedly not even allowed to present within the first 5 kilometer rung of the intended safe zone.