Mike Pence, the vice president of the United States, said Washington and Ankara have agreed on a five-day ceasefire in Turkey’s attacks on Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria.
The agreement on Thursday followed negotiations between Pence and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the presidential palace in Ankara.
Pence said Ankara would pause its offensive, dubbed Operation Peace Spring, for 120 hours in order to allow the Kurdish Protection Units (YPG) to pull 30km back from the Turkey-Syria border.
Once the withdrawal is complete, “Operation Peace Spring will be halted entirely,” Pence told reporters.
The US government “has already been in contact” with the Kurdish 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,” said Pence, who had been sent on a whirlwind mission to persuade Erdogan to halt the internationally condemned offensive.
Washington will impose no further sanctions on Turkey once the ceasefire is implemented, Pence said, adding that it would also withdraw existing sanctions once the Turkish military operation is completed.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu welcomed the deal at a separate news conference, but refused to call it a “ceasefire”. Ankara considers the YPG a “terrorist” group, and Cavusoglu said “a ceasefire is reached between the two legitimate parties.”
Meanwhile, Mazloum Abdi, the commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurdish-lead force spearheaded by the YPG spearheads, confirmed late on Thursday that his fighters will comply with the agreement.
“We will do whatever we can for the success of the ceasefire agreement,” he said on Kurdish TV.