Turkey agrees to pause attacks in northern Syria for five days as Kurds retreat

Turkey agrees to pause attacks in northern Syria for five days as Kurds retreat

Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that the United States and Turkey had agreed on a five-day Turkish cease-fire, days after the country’s forces launched an offensive in northern Syria, CNBC reports.

“It will be a pause in military operations for 120 hours while the United States facilitates the withdrawal of the YPG from the affected areas in the safe zone. And once that is completed, Turkey has agreed to a permanent cease-fire,” Pence said alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Ankara, Turkey, referring to the mostly Kurdish fighting force.

The withdrawal of the Kurds from the border area has “literally already begun,” Pence said. Turkey views the Kurdish fighters as terrorists, though the United States worked closely with them in the battle against the Islamic State group.

President Donald Trump, who was in Texas for a campaign rally, told reporters later Thursday that “this is an incredible outcome.”

“Everybody said this is tougher than we thought. When those guns start shooting, they tend to do things. But I will tell you, on behalf of the United States, I want to thank Turkey, I want to thank all of the people who have gotten together and made this happen,” Trump said.

Pence said that the agreement entails no further U.S. sanctions on Turkey. Once the permanent cease-fire is in effect, the U.S. sanctions imposed Monday in retaliation for the country’s incursion will be withdrawn, he said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the agreement was not a “cease-fire” shortly after Pence spoke. Turkey will continue to control the border zone, Cavusoglu said, according to state media.

Pence declined to cite specific concessions made by Turkey, though he added that those will be evident when the full agreement is made public.