United States says Turkey agrees to a ceasefire in Syria


Turkey has made the most of a power vacuum left by the abrupt USA departure by invading Kurdish-held territory in neighbouring Syria, already killing hundreds and forcing thousands to flee.

Speaking after crisis talks with Erdogan in Ankara, Pence said that under the deal all military operations would be paused to allow a pullback of Kurdish YPG militia over a 120-hour period.

An October 9 letter from U.S. President Donald Trump to Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan warning Erdogan about Turkish military policy and the Kurdish people in Syria is seen after being released by the White House in Washington, U.S. October 16, 2019.

"The US just ratified Turkey's plan to effectively extend its border 30km into Syria with no ability to meaningfully influence facts on the ground".

"All military operations under Operation Peace Spring will be paused, and Operation Peace Spring will be halted entirely on completion of the withdrawal", he told reporters from the presidential palace in Ankara, Turkey.

He called today a "great day" for the US, for Turkey, and for civilization. Had Erdogan not agreed to a ceasefire, Trump warned that he would enact devastating sanctions on Turkey.

Congress yesterday passed a vote 354-60 condemning the United States withdrawal ahead of Erdogan's invasion on October 9.

USA government officials to visit Turkey
But on Sunday, the Kurds struck a deal with the Syrian government after finding themselves unable to stop the Turkish onslaught. Ankara claims that its actions will allow Syrian refugees to return to their homes. "So you have Syria and you have Turkey ".

The U.S. president has been unflinching on his decision, calling it "strategically brilliant" on Wednesday.

"Don't be a tough guy".

After Pence and Erdogan met at the presidential palace, talks between Turkish and U.S. delegations continued for over four hours - well past their expected duration.

One need not wonder whether Erdogan found any of this intimidating: the Turkish president ignored Trump's letter, reportedly throwing it in the trash, and launched a brutal military offensive anyway. "If we don't impose sanctions then Turkey wins big time".

Pence said during a press conference announcing the agreement that the U.S. is "going to be using all the leverage that we have of having fought alongside Syrian Democratic Forces in the battle against ISIS to facilitate their safe withdrawal", adding that the negotiated "outcome will greatly serve the interests of the Kurdish population in Syria".

Mr Erdogan claimed the incursion is to combat rival Kurdish militants and create a buffer zone that he can send Syrian refugees back to. Many lawmakers expressed worry that the withdrawal may lead to revival of ISIS as well as Russian presence and influence in the area - in addition to the slaughter of many Kurds.