Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have made "momentous" decisions regarding Ankara's military offensive in northeast Syria, with both sides saying they had agreed to conduct joint military patrols in the tense region.

Russian and Turkish officials said a five-day U.S.-brokered truce had been extended for 150 hours, starting on midday on October 23, and that Kurdish militias would be required to clear out of a 30-kilometer buffer zone along the Turkish border.

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(Reuters) - In the summer of 2004, U.S. soldier Greg Walker drove to a checkpoint just outside of Baghdad's Green Zone with his Kurdish bodyguard, Azaz. When he stepped out of his SUV, three Iraqi guards turned him around at gunpoint.

As he walked back to the vehicle, he heard an AK-47 being racked and a hail of cursing in Arabic and Kurdish. He turned to see Azaz facing off with the Iraqis.

"Let us through or I'll kill you all," Walker recalled his Kurdish bodyguard telling the Iraqi soldiers, who he described as "terrified."

He thought to himself: "This is the kind of ally and friend I want."

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ANKARA (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday Turkey would press on with its offensive into northeastern Syria and "crush the heads of terrorists" if a deal with Washington on the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from the area were not fully implemented.

Erdogan agreed on Thursday in talks with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence a five-day pause in the offensive to allow time for the Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a "safe zone" Turkey aims to establish in northeast Syria near the Turkish border.

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Turkish military equipment is transported on a street in the Turkish border town of Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, October 14, 2019. (Reuters/Stoyan Nenov)

BEIRUT/ANKARA (Reuters) - Russia-backed Syrian forces wasted no time in taking advantage of an abrupt U.S. retreat from Syria on Monday, deploying deep inside Kurdish-held territory south of the Turkish frontier less than 24 hours after Washington announced a full withdrawal.

Washington's former Kurdish allies said they had brought in the Syrian troops as an "emergency measure" to help fend off an assault by Turkey, launched last week with "a green light" from President Donald Trump that the Kurds describe as a betrayal.

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Most of the U.S. troops in Syria are being moved out of the country as Turkish forces and their Arab allies push further into Kurdish territory than originally expected, Task & Purpose has learned.

Roughly 1,000 U.S. troops are withdrawing from Syria, leaving a residual force of between 100 and 150 service members at the Al Tanf garrison, a U.S. official said.

"I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday's edition of CBS News' "Face the Nation."'

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In May 2003, just two months after the U.S. military invaded Iraq and ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, then-Presidential Envoy Paul Bremer and his senior advisor Walter Slocombe drafted the Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 2, a diplomatic document that effectively disbanded the Iraqi Army.

The text was purposefully benign, according to Slocombe, because "There was no intact Iraqi force to 'disband'" in the first place. For Slocombe and Bremer, the order was more a symbolic demolishment of Hussein's legacy — a demonstration, in Bremer's own words, "that neither Saddam nor his gang is coming back."

Now, more than 15 years later, Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 2 (CPA Order 2, for short) is widely seen as one of the U.S.'s biggest blunders in Iraq, a hasty decision that led us right to the current "Forever War" predicament. And, with President Donald Trump's surprise withdrawal of U.S. forces from northern Syria on Monday, the lessons of the decree remain unheeded and unlearned.

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