October 18, 2019 - 11:30 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Turkey has agreed to halt its week-old military incursion in Syria in exchange for a withdrawal of Kurdish forces from a “safe zone” in a swath of the country’s north-east, US vice-president Mike Pence announced during a visit to Ankara, Financial Times reports.
President Donald Trump claimed on Twitter that “[m]illions of lives will be saved” by the suspension of hostilities; Pence, who held nearly five hours of meetings with Turkish leaders, said Ankara would follow the initial five-day halt with a permanent ceasefire once the US-allied Kurdish forces withdrew from the border region.
The US vice-president said the Trump administration would not impose any more sanctions on Turkey and that it would remove recently imposed sanctions once a permanent ceasefire was in place.
“I just want to thank and congratulate . . . President Erdogan,” Trump told reporters during a visit to Texas. “He’s a friend of mine and I’m glad we didn’t have a problem because frankly, he’s a hell of a leader. And he’s a tough man. He’s a strong man. And he did the right thing and I really appreciate it and I will appreciate it in the future.”
Mazloum Kobani, commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-dominated militia armed and trained by the US to fight Isis, said the group would accept the ceasefire. But he was quoted by local media as saying it would be limited to the region between the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, appearing to differ from Ankara’s broader interpretation of the deal. He added that it was a “tentative agreement”.
Trump’s decision to remove US troops from the area triggered an international outcry and sparked the fiercest bipartisan rebuke from Congress the president has faced since taking office. Democratic and Republican critics accused Trump of betraying the Kurdish forces that spearheaded the US-led campaign against Isis jihadis in the region.