Turkish foreign minister: US-Turkey deal ‘not a cease-fire’

In a surprise announcement, US Vice President Mike Pence said officials in Ankara agreed to a five-day cease-fire in northeast Syria to allow Kurdish militants to evacuate a 20-mile area that will become a “safe zone” along Turkey’s border.

Speaking at a press conference in Ankara, Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the plan following meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“The Turkish side will pause Operation Peace Spring in order to allow for the withdrawal of YPG [People’s Protection Units] forces from the safe zone for 120 hours,” Pence said. “All military operations under Operation Peace Spring will be paused, and Operation Peace Spring will be halted entirely on completion of the withdrawal.”

Turkish forces began a military operation Oct. 9 in northeast Syria to eradicate US-backed Kurdish militants and create a safe zone to repatriate Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey.

At a separate press conference, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusolgu said, “We are suspending the operation, not halting it … We can halt the operation only after [Kurdish militants] withdraw from the region completely.”

He added, “This is not a cease-fire. A cease-fire is done between two legitimate parties.”

Read the full story on Al Monitor: https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/10/turkey-incursion-syria-pence-announce-ceasefire.html