Monday, July 6, 2020 | ePaper

Turkey, US agree on Syria ceasefire to force Kurdish fighters' withdrawal

  • Print


Turkey's operation "will be halted entirely on completion" of pullout of Syrian forces: Mike Pence

AFP, Ankara :
Turkey has agreed to suspend its Syria offensive for five days and will end the assault if Kurdish-led forces withdraw from a safe zone along the border, US Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish officials announced Thursday after high-stakes talks.
The agreement for the 120-hour pause eased what had escalated into an unprecedented crisis between the United States and Turkey, but critics quickly accused President Donald Trump of again abandoning Kurdish allies.
Under the deal reached after Pence flew to Ankara, Kurdish forces will have to withdraw from an area 32 kilometres deep, becoming a "safe zone" long sought by Turkey, which brands the fighters as "terrorists".
Trump paved the way for the week-long Turkish incursion by withdrawing US troops but he later imposed sanctions and threatened to destroy the NATO ally's economy as he came under fire at home.
After talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that stretched hours longer than expected, Pence told reporters that Turkey's operation "will be halted entirely on completion" of the pullout of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and, following that, the US would withdraw sanctions.
Pence said the United States would work with the PG, the Kurdish fighters who dominate the SDF, "to facilitate an orderly withdrawal in the next 120 hours."
SDF chief Mazlum Abdi said the forces were "ready to abide by the ceasefire" covering the area from Ras al-Ain to Tal Abyad.
But James Jeffrey, the US pointman on Syria, acknowledged that the Kurdish fighters were not happy and that Washington was using "a carrot and a stick" with threats of sanctions to enforce the deal.
"There's no doubt that the YPG wishes that they could stay in these areas," he told reporters travelling from Ankara with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said more than 300,000 civilians had been displaced within Syria since the start of the assault, calling it one of the largest upheavals since Syria's civil war began in 2011.
The monitor said nearly 500 people have been killed including dozens of civilians, the majority on the Kurdish side.
Turkey has faced wide condemnation, with many European countries imposing arms embargoes. EU leaders meeting in Brussels reiterated their call early Friday for Turkey to end its assault, while noting the pause in the offensive.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu insisted to journalists in Ankara that Turkey was "suspending the operation, not halting it".
"This is not a ceasefire. A ceasefire is reached between the two legitimate parties."
Ankara considers YPG militants to be an extension the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) -- a group that has fought a bloody insurgency inside Turkey for 35 years.
Trump hailed the deal, reached after more than four hours of talks led by Pence, as "a great day for civilisation".
"I want to thank the Kurds, because they were incredibly happy with this solution," he said during a visit to Texas. "This is a solution that really-well it saved their lives, frankly."
A day after the leak of a letter in which Trump warned Erdogan not to be a "fool," Trump hailed the Turkish president as "a friend of mine", adding: "He's a hell of a leader."
Erdogan on Twitter called for action to "defeat terrorism," saying "I am confident this joint effort will promote peace and stability in our region."
Erdogan, who like Trump has faced political setbacks at home, found wide domestic support for the operation.
But Trump faced accusations even from usual supporters that his withdrawal of 1,000 US troops-practically the entire US contingent in the region-betrayed Kurdish militants who bore the brunt of the fight against the Islamic State group in recent years.
Trump quickly faced renewed attacks over the deal.
"President Trump's decision to help Turkey push the Kurds out of their home in northern Syria after all they have done to help the US defeat ISIS is outrageous," said Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat.

More News For this Category

Democracy activists' books unavailable in Hong Kong libraries after new law

Democracy activists' books unavailable in Hong Kong libraries after new law

Reuters :Books by prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy figures have become unavailable in the Chinese-ruled city's public libraries, days after Beijing introduced sweeping national security legislation, according to online records and

India to reopen Taj Mahal with social distancing, masks

Reuters :Visitors to the Taj Mahal will have to wear masks at all times, keep their distance and not touch its glistening marble surfaces when India's 17th-century monument to love

More than 160 killed in Ethiopia protests over singer's murder

More than 160 killed in Ethiopia protests over singer's murder

Al Jazeera News :At least 166 people have died during violent demonstrations that roiled Ethiopia in the days following the murder of popular singer Haacaaluu Hundeessa, police said."In the aftermath

Trump vows to defeat 'radical left' in Independence Day speech

Trump vows to defeat 'radical left' in Independence Day speech

US President Donald Trump has used an Independence Day address to vow to defeat the "radical left" as protests sweep the country.Striking a combative tone, Mr Trump said he would

Several killed in IS-regime clashes in Syria

Several killed in IS-regime clashes in Syria

AFP, Beirut :Clashes between Russia-backed Syrian regime forces and the militant Islamic State group have killed more than 40 fighters on the two sides in just 48 hours, a Britain-based

Ghana's president self-quarantine amid COVID-19 fear

Ghana's president self-quarantine amid COVID-19 fear

Anadolu Agency, Abuja :The President of Ghana isolated himself after coming into contact with an associate who tested positive for the coronavirus, according to an official statement Saturday."President Nana Akufo-Addo

Algeria seeks apology from France over colonial past: President

Algeria seeks apology from France over colonial past: President

Al Jazeera News :Algeria is waiting for an apology for France's colonial occupation of the North African country, the president said, expressing hope that French President Emmanuel Macron would build

China appoints hardliner to head new Hong Kong security agency

China appoints hardliner to head new Hong Kong security agency

AFP, Hong Kong :China appointed a hardliner to head a new national security agency in Hong Kong on Friday as police brought the first charges under a sweeping new

PIA terminates services of 52 employees

Dawn.com, Rawalpindi :The Pakistan Interna­tional Airlines (PIA) on Friday terminated the services of 52 employees on various charges, including fake or tampered degrees, breach of rules and unauthorised disclosure

Heavy rains flood Japan, over a dozen presumed dead

Al Jazeera News :Fourteen people are feared dead after a nursing home was flooded in western Japan as record heavy rains hit the region, a local governor said.The victims