Pence Announces Cease-Fire After Turkish Incursion in Syria


ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s president agreed to halt his military invasion of northeast Syria on Thursday, following hours of negotiations with two top Trump administration officials, to allow Kurdish fighters to leave the area and avoid, for now, an onslaught that had threatened to prolong Syria’s civil war.

The cease-fire would last for five days, Vice President Mike Pence announced in Ankara after meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey for more than four hours.

Mr. Pence cited a “strong relationship” between the United States and Turkey, two longtime NATO allies that had gridlocked over which terror threat in northeast Syria — the Islamic State or a Kurdish separatist group — posed an immediate problem.

“Today, we have agreed to a cease-fire in Syria,” Mr. Pence said, noting that there would be a five-day pause in military operations while the United States facilitated the withdrawal of the Kurdish-led Y.P.G. militia from affected areas in the safe zone.

“Once that is completed, Turkey has agreed to a permanent cease-fire,” Mr. Pence said.

In return, he said, President Trump agreed not to impose any further sanctions on Turkey, and to remove the economic sanctions that were imposed on Turkey last week once the permanent cease-fire took place.

Kurdish fighters now have 120 hours to leave a safe zone reaching about 20 miles south of Turkey’s border with Syria, Mr. Pence said. He said that while the Trump administration did not agree with Mr. Erdogan’s invasion, American officials also understood Turkey’s concerns about the Kurdish fighters, whom they regard as part of a terror group.

The agreement “ends the violence — which is what President Trump sent us here to do,” Mr. Pence said.

Mr. Trump hailed the announcement as a diplomatic victory. “Great news out of Turkey,” he wrote on Twitter, minutes before Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo were scheduled to hold a news conference. “Thank you to @RTErdogan. Millions of lives will be saved!”

Source : Nytimes