In a surprising turn of events, Russia and the Syrian government of Bashar Assad have agreed with the U.S.-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to establish three joint military observation posts in the town of Ayn Issa.

Ayn Issa is of crucial importance since it links Aleppo to al-Hasakah and is located along the strategically important M-4 highway that connects the northeastern with the western part of the country. 

The posts will monitor the ceasefire and any violations by Turkish-proxy militias in the region.

The three groups, seemingly at odds, have “agreed to establish three points… to reduce the violations against our people in Ain Issa and Ain Issa countryside”, Riyadh al-Khalaf, the military council leader for the Tal Abyad district, said in a statement, according to Kurdistan 24.

According to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the first post will be established in the eastern part of Ayn Issa district, the second in the western, and the third on the M4 international highway.

This surprising move follows negotiations between the SDF and the Russians. Russia’s military had asked the SDF to fully withdraw from Ayn Issa and hand the area over to the Assad regime but the SDF rejected the request.

Ayn Issa has come under regular attack, most recently by Turkish-backed rebel groups. In October, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned of a possible new operation into the region. Ayn Issa is located only 20 miles from the Turkish border. The town had also previously served as the administrative center of the SDF-affiliated autonomous administration that controls northeast Syria.

The Turks have called the SDF merely an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which is outlawed as a terrorist organization in Turkey.