Turkey sets deadline for YPG withdrawal
Turkey and the U.S. agreed on pausing of Turkey's anti-terror operation in northern Syria after a top-level meeting between the governments of the two allies.
The pause of the operation is not a cease-fire, a cease-fire can only happen between two legitimate sides, the Turkish foreign minister said after the meetings.
"The will end the operation in northern Syria only after YPG/PKK terrorists leave [safe zone]," Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told a news conference.
The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the illegal PKK- a group listed as terrorists by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.
“We [Turkey and the U.S.] agreed on collecting heavy weapons of YPG, destructing their positions and fortifications,” Çavuşoğlu added.
Turkey will primarily enforce a “safe zone” in northern Syria, according to a joint statement with the United States.
“Turkey’s military operation will pause for 120 hours,” U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told a news conference at the U.S. Embassy to Turkey in Ankara.
He went on to say that withdrawal of YPG from the safe zone has already begun which led to pausing Turkey’s military operation.
Turkey will get 32 kilometers of safe zone, Pence added.
Pence said that Turkey and the U.S. also agreed to eliminate ISIL completely in Syria’s northeast.
Minutes before the press conference by Pence, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted “great news” out of Pence-President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan talks in Turkey.
“All military operations under Operation Peace Spring will be paused, and Operation Peace Spring will be halted entirely on completion of the withdrawal,” he said.
The U.S. will not impose any further sanctions against Turkey during this ceasefire and will halt the current sanctions after Turkey’s permanent end of the Operation Pace Spring.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria on Oct. 9 in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Pence met with Erdoğan yesterday. He was accompanied by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and U.S. Special envoy for Syria James Jeffrey.