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Erdogan: Joint patrols with Turkey and Russia start Friday

Turkey's president says joint patrols with Russia will begin Friday in northeastern Syria, following a Russian-brokered cease-fire that promised to have Syrian Kurdish forces withdraw to the south.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his ruling party on Wednesday that Turkey won't hesitate to relaunch its operation if the Kurdish fighters don't abandon the 30-kilometer-wide area, or about 19 miles, or continue attacks against Turkish troops.

Erdogan says we will "respond in the harshest way to any attacks" and that "if needed, we will expand our safe zone."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a reception on Republic Day, in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. Erdogan said Russia has informed Turkey that Syrian Kurdish fighters have " completely been removed " from the areas in northeast Syria.( Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)

Turkey invaded northeastern Syria earlier this month to push Syrian Kurdish fighters from the area. Ankara considers them terrorists linked to an insurgency in Turkey.

The cease-fire to allow the Syrian Kurdish forces to withdraw has largely held, despite occasional clashes.