US confirms PKK/YPG withdrawal from Turkish op area

US confirms PKK/YPG withdrawal from Turkish op area

US confirms PKK/YPG withdrawal from Turkish op area

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed late on Oct. 23 that the PKK/YPG terror group had withdrawn from the area in northern Syria where Turkey has been conducting Operation Peace Spring.

U.S. military officials have informed their Turkish counterparts about the withdrawal, Pompeo told Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu by phone, according to diplomatic sources.

Meanwhile, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence sayid that a five-day cease-fire in Syria has held and that negotiations continue for a permanent cease-fire.

Pence said the U.S. “may well give the international community an opportunity to establish a safe zone in Syria.”

He added that such a safe zone would ensure peace for everyone in the war-torn region.

Pence's remarks came during a speech at an Oct. 22 night dinner in Washington.

'US did not sign up to defend PKK/YPG'

The U.S. did not pledge to defend the PKK/YPG terror group against Turkey, the nation's defense chief said on Oct. 22.

"We didn't sign up to fight a war to defend the Kurds against a longstanding NATO ally and certainly did not sign up to help them establish an autonomous Kurdish state,” said Defense Secretary Mark Esper, referring to the YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror organization.

Esper was speaking to CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

He said the U.S. relationship with the YPG in northern Syria goes back to the Obama administration and is continuing with the Trump administration but reaffirmed Washington's commitment to Turkey's security.

"Turkey is a longstanding NATO ally. We're not going to go to war against a NATO ally and certainly not with regard to a border that we didn't sign up to defend in the first place," he added.

Esper said he has been working with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar since taking office to establish a safe zone in northern Syria.