U.S. and Turkey agree to 5-day pause in Syrian conflict

World Today

Turkish-backed Syrian fighters sit in the back of a truck in the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad on October 17, 2019, as Turkey and its allies continue their assault on Kurdish-held border towns in northeastern Syria. – US Vice President Mike Pence met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday to push for a ceasefire in Syria after Ankara rebuffed international pressure to halt its deadly offensive against Kurdish forces. (Photo by Bakr ALKASEM / AFP)

Turkey has agreed to pause operations in northern Syria and let Kurdish-led forces withdraw. The U.S. Vice President and Turkish Foreign Minister announced the deal at separate news conferences in Ankara- after a marathon meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. CGTN’s Michal Bardavid has more.

Turkey and the United States have come to an agreement that stops Turkey’s offensive against the Syrian Kurdish YPG in Northern Syria – for now.

On Thursday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Turkey to hold talks with Turkish officials including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan; their main aim – to convince Turkey to halt its offensive and mediate between the Kurdish forces and Turkey.

Following over four hours of talks, Turkey did not agree to negotiate with the YPG, as it considers it to be a terrorist organization. But, it did agree to suspend all military action and give the YPG five days to withdraw from the safe zone region.

“All military operations under Operation Peace Spring will be paused, and Operation Peace Spring will be halted entirely on completion of the withdrawal. Our administration has already been in contact with Syrian defense (democratic) forces and we have already begun to facilitate their safe withdrawal from the nearly 20-mile wide safe zone area, south of the Turkish border in Syria,” U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Melvut Cavusoglu, stated that under the agreement heavy weapons would be recollected from the YPG, and they also would be required to lay their arms and destroy their fortifications.

Following the U.S. decision to pull out of the region, in need of new protection – the YPG struck a deal with the Syrian government which deployed some forces in areas previously controlled by the U.S.

“Since yesterday, the regime forces and Russia re-entered the Ayn al-Arab and Kobani so that we will be negotiating Manbij and other zones with Russia. Last night, President (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) had a phone call with the President of the Russian Federation, Putin,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to travel to Russia and meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on October 22 to discuss the fate of these towns. Erdogan has made it clear he has no issues with the Syrian government taking over these towns as long as the YPG is cleared from that area.

If the YPG withdraws from the safe zone in five days as agreed, and Turkey then ends the offensive – the United States has vowed to lift all the sanctions it has imposed on Turkey.