US, Turkey agree to 5-day 'ceasefire' in Syria, Vice President Mike Pence says | 10/17/2019 | Staff (Posted by) Level 4
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Turkish leaders have agreed to a five-day "pause" to its incursion in northern Syria after an hourslong meeting with the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday.

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The announcement was made by Pence after the meeting in Ankara. Under the agreement, Turkey will pause its invasion of Kurdish-held areas in Syria along the Turkish border for 120 hours.

This will allow Kurdish Syrian Defense Forces to withdraw from a nearly 20-mile-wide designated safe zone along Turkey’s southern border.

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In exchange, the U.S. agreed not to place additional sanctions on Turkey and to lift sanctions recently imposed on Turkey if the ceasefire becomes permanent. The agreement does not force Turkey to withdraw its forces from Syria.

The agreement comes about a week after Turkish forces crossed into Syria in an attempt to expel Kurdish forces that were once backed by the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State. Turkey has long argued the Kurdish rebels in Syria are “terrorist” outfits aligned with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Kurdish separatist group in Turkey.

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Supporters have argued that Kurdish rebels in Syria that were backed by the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State have no connections with the PKK. However, Gen. Mazlum Abdi, the leader of the Syrian opposition forces led by the Kurdish People's Protection Unit, used to be part of the PKK, which has waged a decadeslong battle with Turkey.

Two days after Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned that a military offensive was planned, President Donald Trump ordered around 50 U.S. soldiers in the area to pullback, which drew the ire of some of his evangelical supporters because it paved the way for the Turkish offensive in the autonomous region of northern Syria.

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