Erdoğan, Johnson discuss Syria ceasefire, bilateral relations

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a phone call on Sunday discussed the implementation of the Ankara-Washington agreement to a five-day pause to Turkey’s military operation targeting Kurdish forces in northeast Syria, Habertürk reported.

The withdrawal of Kurdish forces from the region by Tuesday, the handing over of military hardware and the demolition of defensive fortifications and bilateral relations were discussed during the conversation between the leaders, it said citing a statement from the Turkish presidency.

Turkey’s offensive in northeast Syria targeting the formerly U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and affiliates, which began on Oct. 9, was halted on Thursday following a U.S.-brokered temporary ceasefire deal. 

Accordingly, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara sees as a terror group, will withdraw in 120 hours from territories in northern Syria where Turkey wants to establish a 32-kilometre safe zone. 

Both Ankara and the Kurds have accused each other of violating the ceasefire.

Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring aims to clear the country’s Syria-facing border area of Kurdish militia and create a safe zone where Turkey could relocate up to 3 million of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees it currently hosts.

The UK has openly criticised Turkey over the offensive and has announced an embargo on arms exports to Ankara.