The Russian and Turkish militaries have launched a joint patrol mission along the Syrian border, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Friday.
“Russian military police officers and Turkish border guards launched the first joint patrol mission along the Syria-Turkey border at 12:15 pm on November 1, 2019,” the statement reads. “A joint convoy departed from the Derbisia customs checkpoint, where Russian military police officers had met with Turkish border service members, and is headed west along the Syria-Turkey border,” the Defense Ministry added.
“The convoy consists of Russian military police’s Tigr and Taifun armored vehicles, as well as the Turkish border service’s Kirpi armored vehicles. There are nine vehicles in total. Russian military police’s BTR-82 armored personnel carrier is there to ensure the convoy’s safety. The patrol’s route is over 110 km long,” the statement added.
Turkey’s Defense Ministry also confirmed the launch of joint patrols. “The first joint patrol mission involving Russian and Turkish military servicemen and unmanned aerial vehicles has been launched in the Derbisia area east of the Euphrates in accordance with agreements reached in Sochi on October 22,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Russian military patrolled the area on its own between October 23 and 31.
On October 9, Turkey launched a military incursion into northern Syria, codenaming it Operation Peace Spring, with the Turkish Armed Forces and the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army carrying it out. The Erdogan government claimed that its goal was to clear the border area of what it calls ‘terrorists’ (Turkey’s broad label of the Kurdish forces) and establish a 30 km-long buffer zone in Syria’s north, where over 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey would resettle.
On October 22, Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey signed a memorandum on joint actions to resolve the situation in northeastern Syria. According to the document, Russian military police units and Syrian troops were deployed to areas adjacent to the zone of Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring. Kurdish units were given 150 hours to pull out of the 30-km zone along the Syria-Turkey border, while Russian military police and Turkish troops were to launch joint patrols.