National Security & Defense

U.S., Turkey Reach Ceasefire Agreement in Syria Conflict

Turkey-backed Syrian rebel fighters walk together in the border town of Tal Abyad, Syria, October 15, 2019. (Khalil Ashawi/Reuters)

Vice President Mike Pence announced Thursday that Turkey had agreed to a ceasefire in northern Syria after hours of negotiations with Turkish officials.

Turkey agreed to suspend military operations for 120 hours while the United States helps orchestrate a withdrawal of Kurdish YPG forces from the proposed Turkish safe zone, after which a permanent ceasefire will begin.

“I spoke to President Trump just a few moments ago, and I know the president is very grateful for President Erdogan’s willingness to step forward,” Pence said in the announcement.

The vice president said that the deal included a walk back of economic sanctions against Turkey which the White House implemented earlier this week.

“Part of our understanding is that with the implementation of the ceasefire, the United States will not impose any further sanctions on Turkey,” Pence said. “And once a permanent ceasefire is in effect, the President has agreed to withdraw the economic sanctions that were imposed this last Monday.”

Pence also said that the U.S. had communicated with YPG leadership, and had received “repeated assurances from them that they’ll be moving out.”

News of the agreement comes less than an hour after Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) announced tougher sanctions on Turkey for the initial invasion.

The ceasefire agreement also marks a reversal for Erdogan, who claimed Wednesday that Turkey “can never declare a ceasefire.”

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