Trump hails 'big success' with safe zone at Turkey-Syria border

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Washington (AFP)

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday hailed a deal struck between Russia and Turkey to remove Kurdish fighters from the Syria-Turkey border, calling the agreement a "big success."

Trump has been under fire for abruptly withdrawing US troops from northern Syria, paving the way for Turkey to launch the offensive against the Kurds, US allies against the Islamic State group.

Under the deal struck Tuesday in Sochi, Russian military police and Syrian border guards will "facilitate the removal" of Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters and their weapons from within 30 kilometers (18 miles) of the border.

It will also see Turkey preserve a "safe zone" inside Syria about 75 miles long and 20 miles deep. Russia and Turkey will eventually launch joint patrols along the zone.

"Big success on the Turkey/Syria Border. Safe Zone created! Ceasefire has held and combat missions have ended," the president tweeted. "Kurds are safe and have worked very nicely with us. Captured ISIS prisoners secured."

The prospect of thousands of Islamic State group jihadists escaping in the chaos after Turkey launched its military action on October 9 has caused widespread alarm in the West.

Trump said he would be making a statement on developments in the region at 11:00 am (1500 GMT).