The United States and Turkey on October 17 reached an agreement on a five-day truce and the establishment of a safe zone in northern Syria, where the Turkish forces had been fighting against the Kurdish militia, following talks between the two sides in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan (R) meets with US Vice President Mike Pence (L) in Ankara,
on October 17, 2019.
military operation will pause for 120 hours," US Vice President Mike Pence
said at a press conference following a closed-door meeting with Turkish
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
According to Pence,
the Kurdish militia known as the People's Protection Units (YPG) has started to
withdraw from the planned safe zone, which shall have a depth of 20 miles (32
"Turkey will end the operation in northern Syria only after the YPG and PKK terrorists
leave the area," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a press
conference in Ankara.
Ankara sees the YPG as the Syrian
offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which is outlawed for its armed
struggle against the Turkish state over the past three decades, while Washington used the
Kurdish fighters as ground forces against the Islamic State militants.
"This is not a
cease-fire," Cavusoglu stressed, saying a cease-fire can only happen
between two legitimate sides.
The deal reached
between the United States
and Turkish delegations not only includes the withdrawal of the YPG but also
"having their weapons seized and their fortifications and positions
dismantled," said the minister.
Pence said once the
cease-fire is in place, the United States
will lift the sanctions which were imposed on Turkey
in response to Ankara's
launch of the cross-border military operation against the Kurdish militia on
The vice president
was sent to Ankara along with Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo after Turkey
rejected the US
cease-fire offer, and Pence reportedly had a closed-door meeting with Erdogan
for more than two hours.
Turkey is seeking to clear the Kurdish militia
from its border for a safe zone to house the Syrian refugees being sheltered on
its land by launching the so-called Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria,
the third of its kind over the years, but has sparked condemnation from many
parts of the world including Arabian and European countries.
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