Turkey’s Çavuşoğlu says the pause in Syria operation is not a ceasefire

Turkey got what it wanted, with the skillful leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters following Thursday’s meeting between U.S. and Turkish delegations in Ankara.

The decision to pause Operation Peace Spring does not constitute a ceasefire, the minister said. “We will take a 120-hour pause on the operation, but this is not a ceasefire. Ceasefires are made between two legitimate parties.”

The United States has agreed to Turkey controlling the safe zone, and the two countries have agreed that Operation Peace Spring will take a break so the majority-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) can fully withdraw from the safe zone, Çavuşoğlu said.

All YPG positions and fortifications will also be destroyed, he added.

Turkey aims to establish the full safe zone, a 20-mile-deep 444-kilometre-long stretch of land along its border, to where displaced Syrians and migrants can return, he said.

“Humanitarian issues are not mathematical matters,” the minister said, and added that Turkey will support the voluntary return of Syrian refugees as well as discuss infrastructure investments necessary to meet the people’s fundamental needs, to which the EU and its member states must contribute.

Sanctions against Turkish ministers are of no actual importance, Minister Çavuşoğlu said, as none of them have any assets in the United States. The United States has stipulated that there would be no more efforts for additional sanctions, he added. Operation Peace Spring will end when its goals are met, according to the minister. 
“The operation’s goal was to clear the terrorists from the area. As soon as this comes to pass, when we arrive at that stage, the current sanctions in place will also be lifted,” he said.
If there are no YPG elements left in the safe zone, the meeting scheduled for November 13 in Washington D.C. will come to pass, he added.
Turkey will discuss the matter of Manbij and Kobani with Russia on October 22, the minister said. 
When asked whether the United States had given any guarantees that Russia wouldn’t enter Kobani as U.S. forces withdrew, the minister said, “They cannot give such a guarantee that Russia won’t enter. They told us from the beginning that if they withdrew, Russians would move in. We have already been working with Russians for a long time on the political process and the ceasefire in Idlib.”
There was no discussion on Turkey not entering Kobani like U.S. Vice President Mike Pence claimed, he added.

President Trump’s letter dated October 9 was low level, Çavuşoğlu said. “It is dated the day we launched the operation. So, we gave our response on the field.”