Turkey says U.S.-brokered deal in place, Syrian Kurds say ceasefire violated - live blog

Ankara said on Friday that it was abiding by the agreement on 120-hour ceasefire in Turkey's northeast Syria offensive, but the Kurdish-led administration accused Turkey of violating the deal.

Turkey and the United States on Thursday agreed to cease hostilities in northeast Syria after hours of negotiations in Ankara, however, reports of clashes and airstrikes continue to recapitulate. The U.S. officials said they were trying to confirm reports on ongoing aggression despite the deal.

U.S. President Donald Trump applauded the deal as an “incredible outcome” that he said had saved millions of lives, but others said it hands Turkey all its military objectives without extracting any significant concessions.

According to the ceasefire deal, the previously U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and other Kurdish-led groups viewed by Ankara as a security threat will withdraw from a 32-km deep zone south of Turkey’s border.

Pence told reporters that the SDF’s withdrawal would start immediately, and that a permanent ceasefire would be implemented once all fighters had left.

But SDF commander Mazloum Kobani said his side had agreed to stop fighting in areas where there has been active conflict, but would not withdraw from territory the Syrian Kurds still control within the 32-km zone, which includes major towns.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported sporadic clashes continued in areas covered by the deal.

The 120-hour ceasefire ends on Tuesday, the day Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin, a main player in the Syrian conflict.

Hundreds of fighters and civilians have been killed and tens of thousands forced to flee since the start of the Turkish operation on Oct. 9.

Thursday’s announcement came after U.S. senators introduced bills with strong sanctions on Turkey over its military operation. The co-author of one bipartisan bill has said he will still press on with the sanctions.


23:35 Syrian Kurds call on UN, U.S. and Arab League to send observers to follow ceasefire process in northeast Syria

The political wing of previously U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Friday released a statement calling on the United Nations (UN), the UN Security Council, the Arab League, and the United States to send observers to follow ceasefire process.

The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) accused Turkey of not abiding the terms of the temporary ceasefire and continuing aggression in northeast Syria.

"We therefore, call upon the United Nations, the UN Security Council, the Arab League, and in particular the United States of America, as the mediator of this agreement and its sponsor, to start from its responsibilities and move immediately to send international observers in order to maintain the temporary ceasefire agreement and make it permanent that leads to complete withdrawal of the Turkish occupation army," the SDC statement said.

The SDC also said that the most immediate way to end the Syrian crisis is the UN’s sponsorship of a legitimate Syrian dialogue based on a political solution and the relevant international resolutions.


23:15 Russia says all territory, including northeast Syria, should be under control of Syrian government for long-term stability

Russian foreign ministry Spokeswomen Maria Zakharova said achieving long-term stabilisation and security in northeastern Syria was based on restoring Syria's territorial integrity by transferring control of the region to the Syrian government.

"We are convinced that achieving sustainable and long-term stabilisation and security in this region of Syria, that country and the region in general is possible only on the basis of restoring its sovereignty and territorial integrity," Zakharova said. 

"This means the ultimate transfer of all national territories, including the border with Turkey, under control of the legitimate Syrian Government." 

Russia welcomes efforts to reach an agreement between Syrian Kurds and Damascus, according to the spokeswoman.

Zakharova
AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

22:50 U.S. Senator Graham says Congress will stay active on Syria situation as top Republican Senator calls for halting sanction efforts

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said on Friday that Congress would be closely following the situation in northeast Syria, while the top Republican in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, said it is more appropriate for bipartisan efforts to sanction Turkey over its incursion in northeast Syria to pause, Reuters reported.

"I hope we can find a win-win situation, but I share General Mazloum’s concerns. I also told him that Congress will stay very involved and is extremely sympathetic to the plight of the Kurds," Graham said on Twitter following a phone call with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) leader Mazloum Kobani.

Meanwhile, McCarthy said sanction efforts should be put on hold so that Trump administration can take the lead.

“I think it would be appropriate to let them continue to do that work especially based upon the success of the president and the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, with their work in Turkey and I would take direction from that,” he said at a press briefing on Friday. “I think I would take a pause right now and I would let them do the work,” McCarthy said.


22:15 Belgium to evacuate ISIS suspect citizens from detention camps in Syria 

Belgium is planning to evacuate citizens accused of having links to ISIS from detention camps in northeast Syria through Turkey's newly-declared safe zone, the Guardian reported on Friday.

"Belgian officials informed family members of detainees held in two camps on Friday that they would attempt to take advantage of a five-day ceasefire to retrieve nationals allegedly tied to the terror group," the Guardian said.

Besides, some European states, including France and Germany, are also assessing similar plans, according to the daily.

ISIS detention centres
Graphic/AFP

20:45 U.S., European foreign affairs chairs jointly condemn Turkish offensive in northeast Syria

The chairs of the foreign affairs committees from the United States, Britain, Germany, France and the European Parliament on Friday released a statement condemning Turkey's incursion in northeast Syria.

The statement denounces Turkey's offensive as a "military aggression and a violation of international law", adding that it may contribute to a resurgence of ISIS and undermines years of efforts against the group.


20:30 Defence Secretary Esper says U.S. troops will not enforce Syria so-called safe zone, withdrawal continues

U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday that U.S. troops will not take part in implementing the so-called safe zone in northern Syria and the United States would continue planned withdrawal of troops from northeastern Syria, Reuters reported.

According to Thursday's U.S.-brokered ceasefire deal, the previously U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and other Kurdish-led groups viewed by Ankara as a security threat will withdraw from a 32-km deep zone south of Turkey’s border.

“No U.S. ground forces will participate in the enforcement of the safe zone, however we will remain in communication with both Turkey and the SDF,” Esper said.

U.S. Defence Secretary also spoke with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on Friday and said that the United States expected Turkey to honour the terms of the ceasefire agreement.

"We expect Turkey to assure the well-being of all people in the area controlled by Turkish forces," he said. "Protecting religious and ethnic minorities in the region continues to be a focus of the administration." 

Turkish Defence Ministry on Friday said Turkey closely follows the process of the withdrawal of Kurdish forces, including the elimination of Kurdish fortifications in the region and removal of heavy weapons.


20:00 Czech President accuses Turkey of committing war crimes in northeast Syria

Czech President Milos Zeman accused Turkey teaming up with what he calls terrorists and the Turkish army and Turkey-backed Syrian rebels of carrying out war crimes, Ahram Online reported.

"I think Turkey has committed war crimes and in any case I think it should not be an EU member at least," Zeman said.

He also said he opposed Turkey' calling the Kurds terrorist.

"On the contrary, I'm asking myself if those who attack the Kurds and commit those beastly murders like the murder of that Kurdish politician are not terrorists themselves."


19:45 Erdoğan says 2 million Syrians could be resettled if safe zone extends to Raqqa

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday said 2 million Syrian refugees could be repatriated if Raqqa was also included into the safe zone.

Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to clear the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and other groups that Ankara accuses of having links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from its border, vowing to resettle a large number of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.

Erdoğan said Turkey detained 195 of 950 ISIS fighters who he said released by Kurdish forces in Syria.

Erdogan
Turkish Presidency Press Service via AP

19:30 U.S. official says they work on clarifying reported attacks

A senior U.S. official said they were waiting for confirmation on the fighting observed after the deal that foresees ceasefire in northeast Syria, Associated Press reported.

The official said it takes time to pass the information to field units especially for forces without strong command. Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebels and Kurdish forces clashed in and around Ras al Ayn and Turkey carried out airstrikes, according to earlier reports.


19:15 Trump admits Syria ceasefire might be failing temporarily due to clashes

U.S. President Donald Trump said U.S.-brokered ceasefire in northeast Syria was temporarily disrupted by sporadic clashes that were later terminated.

He said he was informed about the situation by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a phone call, adding that both Turkey and Kurdish forces in Syria want a ceasefire in northeast Syria.


18:50 Fourteen killed in Turkish airstrikes in northeast Syria's Ras al Ayn

Fourteen civilians were killed in Turkish airstrikes in Ras al Ayn despite the five-day ceasefire agreed by Turkey and the United States, AFP reported on Friday. 


17:35 Turkey plans to establish 12 posts in Syria safe zone – Erdoğan

Turkey aims to establish 12 observation posts in what it calls a safe zone in northeast Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

Turkey will respond if the Syrian government makes a mistake, Reuters quoted Erdoğan as saying.

Syrian government forces have moved into parts of northern Syria after the United States pulled out its troops on Monday.

Turkish army vehicles are moving on a road near the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, Turkey, October 18, 2019. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov
Turkish army vehicles are moving on a road near the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, Turkey, October 18, 2019. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

17:20 Macron, Merkel, Johnson to meet Erdoğan over Syria offensive

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that he, the German chancellor and British prime minister would meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over Turkey’s northern Syria offensive.

“We made a joint decision about Turkey. We halted arms exports to Turkey,” Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Macron as telling a news conference in Brussels.

“We decided with (Angela) Merkel and (Boris) Johnson to have a meeting with President Erdoğan. We will probably meet in London.” Macron said.

“It’s important to meet and coordinate between the three Europeans and Turkey,” Reuters quoted Macron as saying.

John THYS / AFP
John THYS / AFP

17:10 British foreign minister says Turkey exploiting the situation in northern Syria

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accused Turkey of exploiting the situation in northern Syria and making the humanitarian conditions even worse.

“Turkey is exploiting the situation in a way which we condemned,” Raab told Sky TV.

Raab said Britain wanted Turkish troops to withdraw from Syria “as their presence will make the humanitarian situation worse, not better”.

He said: “I am pleased to see that there has been an agreement for a temporary ceasefire. We want to see that be made permanent,”

Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is seen outside Downing Street in London, Britain, October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

16:45 Thirteen civilians killed in Turkish airstrike in northeast Syria – Syrian TV

Thirteen civilians were killed and 70 others wounded in an air strike by the Turkish Air Force on a humanitarian convoy in northeastern Syria, Russian Sputnik news outlet reported, citing the Syrian Al Mayadeen television channel.

The humanitarian convoy was heading from the settlement of Tal Tamr to the city of Ras al Ayn, the channel said.


16:35 EU’s Tusk says Turkish-U.S. deal over northern Syria not a genuine ceasefire

European Union Council President Donald Tusk said on Friday that a deal agreed by Turkey and United States on Thursday to pause the Turkish military offensive in northern Syria was not a real ceasefire, Reuters reported.

“The so-called ceasefire is not what we expected. In fact, it’s not a ceasefire, it’s a demand of capitulation of the Kurds,” Tusk told reporters in Brussels.

“We have to reiterate our call to Turkey to put a permanent end to its military action immediately and withdraw its forces and respect the international humanitarian law,” he said.

REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw
REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

16:20 White House says ceasefire in northern Syria will take time

Implementing a ceasefire in northern Syria agreed between Turkey and the United States will take time, Reuters quoted a White House spokeswoman as saying on Friday.

Clashes in the northeastern Syrian town of Ras al Ayn are continuing despite the five-day ceasefire agreed by Turkey and the United States on Thursday, media reports say.

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told Fox News that the U.S. delegation was “successful in a ceasefire, but that takes time”, adding that she would not discuss operations on the ground, Reuters said.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

15:30 Syrian Democratic Forces say withdrawal area is between Ras al Ayn and Tel Abyad

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) accept a ceasefire agreed between Turkey and the United States, but said it was limited to a strip between the border towns of Ras al Ayn and Tel Abyad, Reuters quoted SDF commander Mazloum Kobani as saying on Kurdish broadcaster Ronahi TV late on Thursday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Friday that Turkey wanted an area 30 km deep, starting from the town of Manbij and ending at Syria’s Iraq border to be cleared of the Kurdish militia. The distance between Ras al Ayn and Tel Abyad, about 120 km, is much smaller.


15:10 Erdoğan says Turkish offensive will continue if U.S. fails to keep promises

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Friday that Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria would continue, if the United States failed to deliver its promise to ensure the withdrawal of Syrian Kurdish forces from the border area in five days.

Erdoğan said Turkey had halted its offensive for 120 hours according to a deal struck with the United States on Thursday and said the operation would end altogether if the Kurdish forces withdrew from the area, as U.S. leaders had said they would.

“If (the United States) does not keep its word, after 120 hours we will pick up Operation Peace Spring where we left off with even more determination,” he said. 

A handout photo released by the Turkish President's press office shows Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan talking to media in Istanbul on October 18, 2019.
A handout photo released by the Turkish President's press office shows Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan talking to media in Istanbul on October 18, 2019.

14:15 UN investigates alleged Turkish use of white phosphorus in Syria - The Guardian

UN chemical weapons inspectors said on Friday they were gathering information following accusations that Turkish forces used burning white phosphorus against children in Syria this week, the Guardian said.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said “it was aware of the situation and is collecting information with regard to possible use of chemical weapons”.

White phosphorus is used legally by militaries as a smoke screen in daytime and as an incendiary to light up an area at night, but it is illegal to use the chemical against civilians, as it causes serious and exceptionally painful burns on contact with the skin.


14:15 Erdoğan says no clashes in northern Syria, YPG withdrawing

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called reports on ongoing clashes in northeastern Syrian town of Ras al Ayn disinformation and said the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) were withdrawing from northern Syria in accordance with a five-day ceasefire he agreed with the United States on Thursday.

“I do not know where you get those reports on clashes etc., but I am following the process with my minister of defence. They are not true. They are disinformation. No clashes at the moment,” pro-government Sabah newspaper quoted Erdoğan as telling reporters.

“The terrorist organisation YPG has been withdrawing like we agreed with the United States,” Erdoğan said.

The president said the YPG would leave the area where Turkey as planning to establish what it calls a safe zone.

“Thirty-two km in depth, 444 km in length,” Erdoğan said about the size of the planned zone. “It ends on the east at the Iraqi border.”

Murat Kula/Presidential Press Office
Murat Kula/Presidential Press Office

14:00 Turkish lira gains after northern Syria deal

The Turkish lira advanced against the dollar on Friday after Turkey and the United States agreed on pausing Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria for five days.

The lira climbed 0.8 percent to 5.78 per dollar at 14:00 p.m. in Istanbul.


13:45 Turkish air strike kills five civilians in Ras al Ayn - monitor

Five civilians were killed on Friday by a Turkish air strike on a village near the northern Syria border town of Ras al Ayn, Agence France-Presse reported citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 

People who were injured during the ongoing Turkish offensive against Kurdish-controlled areas of northeastern Syria receive treatment at a hospital in Tal Tamr, near the Syrian Kurdish town of Ras al-Ain, October 18, 2019.
People who were injured during the ongoing Turkish offensive against Kurdish-controlled areas of northeastern Syria receive treatment at a hospital in Tal Tamr, near the Syrian Kurdish town of Ras al Ayn, October 18, 2019. (Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP)

13:30 Gunfire stopped in Tel Abyad and Ras al Ayn - Hürriyet

Gunfire stopped in northeastern Syrian towns of Tel Abyad and Ras al Ayn after Turkey and United States agreed on a five-day ceasefire, pro-government newspaper Hürriyet said on Friday.


13:00 Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) accuse Turkey of violating ceasefire

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces on Friday accused Turkey of violating a five-day ceasefire agreed by Turkey and the United States on Thursday.

“Despite the agreement to halt the fighting, air and artillery attacks continue to target the positions of fighters, civilian settlements and the hospital in Serêkaniyê/Ras al Ayn,” the head of SDF’s press office said on Twitter.

 


12:40 Turkish planes launch air strikes on Ras al Ayn - Kurdish news agency

Turkish planes launched air strikes on residential areas in the northwestern Syrian town Ras al Ayn on Friday, despite a ceasefire deal agreed between Turkey and the United States, the pro-Kurdish ANHA news agency reported.

Sporadic clashes between Turkish forces and Kurdish groups were ongoing in the border town, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said on Friday

 Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, Turkey, October 18, 2019. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov
Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Ras al Ayn as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, October 18, 2019. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

12:10 Turkey’s main opposition calls on government to negotiate with Damascus

Peace in Syria can only be possible through negotiations between the Turkish and Syrian governments, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said on Friday.

Kılıçdaroğlu said his party welcomed the agreement between Turkey and the United States to pause the Turkish military offence in northern Syria.

“The road to peace in Syria depends on talks between Damascus and Ankara,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. “They want Syria to be cleared of terrorism and so do we. Then why are we fighting?”


11:45 EU urges Turkey to withdraw forces in northern Syria

European Union leaders countries urged Turkey to end its military operation in northern Syria and to withdraw its forces, Agence France-Presse reported.

“The European Council notes tonight’s U.S.-Turkey announcement on a pause for all military operations,” the leaders of the 28 countries said in a joint statement after a summit in Brussels on Thursday. “It again urges Turkey to end its military action, to withdraw its forces and to respect international humanitarian law.”

European Council President Donald Tusk arrives to address a press conference during an European Union Summit at European Union Headquarters in Brussels on October 17, 2019. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)
European Council President Donald Tusk arrives to address a press conference during an European Union Summit at European Union Headquarters in Brussels on October 17, 2019. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

11:30 Rights group Amnesty accuses Turkey of war crimes

Human rights group Amnesty International on Friday accused the Turkish army and Turkey-backed Syrian rebels of carrying out war crimes, including summary killings and unlawful attacks that have killed and wounded civilians, during a military offensive in northeast Syria.

“Turkey is responsible for the actions of the Syrian armed groups it supports, arms and directs,” said Kumi Naidoo, secretary general of Amnesty International. “We call on Turkey again to end violations, hold perpetrators accountable, and protect civilians living under their control. Turkey cannot evade responsibility by outsourcing war crimes to armed groups.”


11:10 Russia waits for Turkey to give information on Turkish-U.S. deal

Russia is waiting for Turkey to give information on a deal it agreed with the United States on Thursday to pause its offensive in northern Syria for five days to allow the withdrawal of Kurdish forces from the area, BBC Turkish quoted Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov as telling the RIA news agency.


11:00 Syria says Turkish safe zone is an invasion zone

A top adviser to Syrian President Bashar Assad said what Turkey calls a safe zone in northeast Syria to be set up under a ceasefire deal agreed by the Turkish and U.S. governments was in fact an invasion zone, BBC Turkish quoted Assad’s political adviser Bouthaina Shaaban as saying.


09:00 Shelling heard near Syrian town after Turkish-U.S. ceasefire deal - Reuters

Shelling and gunfire were heard near the northeast Syrian town of Ras al Ayn on Friday, a Reuters reporter said, less than a day after Turkey agreed with the United States to pause its offensive in Syria for five days to let Kurdish-led forces withdraw.

The reporter, in the Turkish town of Ceylanpınar across the border from Ras al Ayn, heard the sound of machine-gun fire and shelling in the area of the Syrian town, Reuters said.

Sporadic clashes between Turkish forces and Kurdish groups were ongoing in a battleground Syrian border town on October 18, a monitor said, despite Ankara's announcement of a five-day truce. (Photo by Ozan KOSE / AFP)
Sporadic clashes between Turkish forces and Kurdish groups were ongoing in a battleground Syrian border town on October 18, a monitor said, despite Ankara's announcement of a five-day truce. (Photo by Ozan KOSE / AFP)

08:55 One Turkish soldier killed, two wounded in eastern Turkey

One Turkish soldier was killed and two others wounded in an attack in the eastern province of Van during a patrol along the Iranian border, Sabah newspaper reported.

The newspaper said the attack was carried out by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group which has been fighting inside Turkey for more than 30 years.


07:30 U.S. struck ceasefire agreement knowing Kurdish forces could not hold territory - U.S. official

The United States struck a ceasefire agreement with Turkey to pause the Turkish offensive in northern Syria in part because Washington believed the Kurdish-led fighters would not be able to hold the area militarily, a top U.S. official said.

According to the U.S.-Turkish deal, the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) is to withdraw from a 30-km deep area in Syria along the Turkish border.

“There’s no doubt that the YPG wishes that they could stay in these areas,” Reuters quoted U.S. Special Envoy to Syria James Jeffrey as telling reporters. “It is our assessment that they have no military ability to hold onto these areas and therefore we thought that a ceasefire would be much better ... for trying to get some kind of control over this chaotic situation.”

Turkey sees the YPG as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), while the YPG has been the backbone of the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.


07:00 Trump says Turks and Kurds are like two kids fighting

U.S. President Donald Trump said his administration had managed to pause Turkey’s operation in northern Syria by treating the Turks and Kurds like kids fighting.

“Sometimes you have to let them fight a little while,” Trump told a rally in Texas. “Like two kids in a lot you let them fight, then you pull them apart.”

Trump said both Kurds and Turkey were friends of Turkey and that he would remove sanctions on Turkey on Monday.

“Without a little tough love — you know what tough love is, right? — they would've never made this deal,” Trump said.

 


06:00 Erdoğan responds Trump’s tweet on Turkish-U.S. deal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded to U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweet that said millions of lives had been saved by a ceasefire deal struck between Turkey and the United States.

“Mr. President, many more lives will be saved when we defeat terrorism, which is humanity’s arch enemy. I am confident that this joint effort will promote peace and stability in our region,” Erdoğan said.

 


23:50  - Abandoning Kurds leaves stain on U.S. history - Republican Senator Romney

In his speech on the Senate floor on Thursday, Republican Senator Mitt Romney said one of the most sacred principles of the United States, to not abandon its friends, has been violated.

“[The decision to abandon the Kurds] strikes at American honour. What we have done to the Kurds will stand as a blood stain in the annals of American history,” he said.

Regarding the ceasefire agreement between the United States and Turkey, Romney said he hoped that Turkey would honour the deal, but many had been killed already.

The decision to withdraw from Syria has strengthened Russia, Iran and the Syrian government while diminishing the United States, he added.


22:50 - SDF leader says ceasefire agreement accepted only for active war zone

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) leader Mazloum Kobani on Thursday said the SDF agreed on the ceasefire deal between Turkey and the United States but only for Ras al Ayn and Tel Abyad, two cities where fierce fightings were happening.

Kobani said the SDF did not agree to totally withdraw 30 kilometres away from Turkey's border with Syria, they would pull back forces only from active war zones.

Meanwhile, the former leader of the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party Salih Muslim said they welcomed the ceasefire but Kurds would defend themselves if Turkey attacks again, Kurdish ANHA news agency reported.

"We welcome the ceasefire, but we will defend ourselves in the event of an attack," Muslim said in an interview with ANHA.

Turkey and the United States reached an agreement to halt the Turkish offensive in northeast Syria against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara sees as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), for 120 hours to allow Kurdish forces to withdraw 30 kilometres away from Turkey's border with Syria.

"We will not accept the occupation of northern Syria, and we must know the details of the agreement between Pence and Erdoğan," Muslim said. "Ceasefire is one thing and surrender is another, we are ready to defend ourselves."


21:10 - Turkish foreign minister says Turkey reached its aim

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Thursday that Turkey carried its point after U.S. and Turkish officials agree on halting the military offensive in northeast Syria.

"We got what we wanted," Çavuşoğlu told reporters in a press conference.

Turkey and the United States reached an agreement to halt the Turkish offensive in northeast Syria against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara sees as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), for 120 hours to allow Kurdish forces to withdraw 30 kilometres away from Turkey's border with Syria.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the countries agreed on a ceasefire, but Çavuşoğlu maintained that the agreement did not mean a ceasefire since it could only be made between two legitimate sides.

"Provided terrorist elements withdraw, then we will end our military operation. And while it is on hold, there will be no more moves by the U.S. to sanction us. After this, existing sanctions will be lifted," Çavuşoğlu said


20:35 – U.S., Turkey reach deal to halt Turkish operation in Syria

Turkey and the United States have agreed on a deal that will see the Turkish incursion in northeast Syria halted for 120 hours, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told reporters after meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The two sides have agreed to the ceasefire to allow Kurdish-led groups to withdraw from a 20-mile  safe zone south of Turkey’s border. The safe zone will be mainly administered by Turkey.

 


20:30 Trump thanks Erdoğan after U.S.-Turkish meeting

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that “millions of lives will be saved” thanks to the outcome of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence as press in Ankara await a statement.

 


20:10 - Senator Graham, Van Hollen introduce sanctions against Turkey

Senators Lindsey Graham and Chris Van Hollen introduced bipartisan sanctions on Turkey at a Senate press conference on Thursday.

Graham said sanctions announced by the Trump administration on Monday are just the beginning of "a crippling journey" unless Turkey stops its offensive against U.S. allied Kurdish forces in northern Syria and withdraws to areas its military was deployed before what he called an invasion.

The sanctions bill will include measures against Turkish state-run Halkbank for breaking Iran sanctions, mandate CAATSA sanctions for Turkey's S-400 purchase from Russia within 30 days, prohibit the purchase of sovereign debt from Turkey and will prohibit military assistance to Turkey, Graham said.

Van Hollen urged the Senate to immediately vote on the bipartisan resolution, sponsored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and ranking member Michael McCaul, that passed the House on Wednesday and take up their bill next.

​​
SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

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