U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary meets with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir

Turkey agrees to cease fire for five days while Kurds withdraw

Turkey has announced to halt the ongoing military incursion into northern Syria for five days in order to let the Kurdish-led forces withdraw from “safe zone”.

In an agreement after talks with US Vice President Mike Pence, Ankara on Thursday agreed to pause its offensive in the region. Ankara is seeking to set up the “safe zone” in a strip of Syria more than 30 km deep without the presence of Kurdish militia, which was once US allies.

US Vice President Mike Pence announced the truce which was later praised by President Donald Trump. Trump said that the agreement would ‘save millions of lives’.

President Donald Trump has also been criticized by US senators for betraying Kurdish forces, once-US allies to fight against the Islamic State militants. Turkish assault had begun after US announced to withdraw its forces from the region.

However, it is also unclear if Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) would comply with the agreement. Kurdish forces would have to withdraw from the region, leaving the safe zone primarily enforced by Turkish Armed Forces.

SDF commander Mazloum Kobani told Ronahi TV, the group would accept the ceasefire agreement with Turkey in northern Syria but said it was limited to the border areas running between the towns of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad.

The joint statement said that Washington and Ankara would cooperate with each other to handle IS fighters and their families held in prison and camps.

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