Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is holding last-minute talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Tuesday because the clock is winding down on a cease-fire deal between Turkish and Kurdish forces.
The two are meeting in Sochi to speak about “normalizing the scenario” in war-torn Syria, Al Jazeera reported, citing the Kremlin.
Earlier Tuesday, Erdogan warned that his country’s military would resume its offensive if all Syrian Kurds do not leave a border region before a cease-fire deadline runs out at 10:00 p.m. local time.
He stated 800 of the fighters have already left, however as much as 1,300 stays. Turkey launched the operation within northern Syria on Oct. 9, declaring that it aimed to push out Syrian Kurdish fighters it considers terrorists as well as an extension of a Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey.
The U.S. then brokered a deal last week for a 120-hour pause in fighting that expires Tuesday night, to permit Syrian Kurdish fighters to depart areas Turkey controls
Turkey attempts to establish what it calls a “safe zone” stretching more than 250 miles along the Turkish-Syrian border and about 19 miles inside Syria, where it plans to settle about 2 million of them around 3.6 million Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey.
Though Turkish officials say the cease-fire agreement mainly covers a roughly 75-mile stretch between the Syrian border towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, Erdogan has made clear he desires Turkish military presence alongside the full time of the border from the Euphrates River to Syria’s border with Iraq.
Turkey’s military stated Tuesday at least 136 vehicles, carrying fighters, had left the region. It mentioned it had recorded a total of 41 violations since the cease-fire came into effect. Kurdish officials have additionally accused Turkey of cease-fire violations.
Turkey’s incursion into Syria has led to an international outcry, which has, in turn, enraged Erdogan, who has accused his NATO allies of not standing by Turkey.