Turkey Agrees To Suspend Military Offensive In Syria For Five Days To Allow Withdrawal Of Kurdish Forces

Swarajya Staff

Oct 18, 2019, 08:42 AM | Updated 08:42 AM IST

US Vice President Mike Pence (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
US Vice President Mike Pence (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

US Vice-President Mike Pence has announced that Turkey has agreed to a ceasefire in northern Syria to let Kurdish-led forces withdraw.

All military operations will be paused for five days, and the US will help facilitate an "orderly withdrawal" of Kurdish-led troops from what Turkey has termed a "safe zone" on the border, BBC reported. Turkey launched its assault last week.

It aimed to repel a Kurdish militia that it views as a terrorist group, and resettle Syrian refugees in the area.

The cross-border offensive came after US President Donald Trump pulled US forces out of the border region.

His decision prompted a raft of criticism at home and abroad, with some accusing him of giving Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a "green light" for the operation.

Trump tweeted about the ceasefire before Mr Pence announced it, writing that "millions of lives will be saved!"

Pence thanked Donald Trump's "strong leadership" during the announcement.

"He wanted a ceasefire. He wanted to stop the violence," the vice-president said.

Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told journalists the offensive would only be permanently halted when the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had left the border zone.

"We are suspending the operation, not halting it," he said. "We will halt the operation only after (Kurdish militants) completely withdraw from the region."

Pence said the US would lift economic sanctions imposed on Turkey when the military offensive ended, and would not impose more in the meantime.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) voiced its commitment to the cease-fire agreement that was reached between Turkey and the United States in northern Syria.

The general-command of the SDF said in a statement on Thursday (17 October) night that it approves the cease-fire agreement which will see a halt of military operation across the Syrian-Turkish border, Xinhua news agency reported.

It said the cease-fire went into force at 10 pm local time (1900 GMT).

While pledging to respect the cease-fire, the SDF statement urged Turkey to abide by the agreement as well.

(With inputs from IANS)

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