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Turkey denies US brokered ceasefire deal with Syrian Kurds

Turkey said military operations will continue until its citizens are safe [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 31 August, 2016

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Turkish officials have denied a truce deal with Kurdish fighters in northern Syrian, hours after the deal was confirmed by US and Kurdish officials on Tuesday.
Turkish officials on Tuesday evening denied reaching a ceasefire deal with Syrian Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, hours after it was confirmed by the US.

The deal, which was confirmed by US and Kurdish officials earlier on Tuesday, is in doubt after Turkey denied it and affirmed that its military operations against Syrian Kurdish fighters are set to continue.

"In the last several hours, we have received assurance that all parties involved are going to stop shooting at each other and focus on the ISIL threat," US Central Command spokesman, Colonel John Thomas, said using an acronym for IS earlier on Tuesday.

"It's a loose agreement for at least the next couple of days and we are hoping that will solidify," Thomas said.

He said the Turkish and the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had opened communications with the United States and between each other "with the goal of limiting hostilities".

The Kurdish-backed Jarabulus Military Council supported by the SDF confirmed a truce had been reached.

"We agreed on a ceasefire with the Turkish state via the United states and the international coalition" that is fighting IS, said council spokesman Ali Hajo.

 

However, a commander in one of the Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups that have clashed with SDF-allied groups south of Jarabulus said there was no ceasefire, only a pause in the military operation.

"There is no truce and no ceasefire. But there has been a pause for some time," he said, adding that the operation would resume shortly Reuters reported.

Furthermore, a statement by the Turkish foreign ministry said it was still waiting for the US to fulfill its commitment that there would be no Kurdish fighters on the west of Euphrates.

"We are waiting for the immediate realisation of the commitment the US forwarded to us that there will not be any PYD/YPG elements in the west of Euphrates after the Manbij operation," foreign ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said.

Bilgic said Turkish military operations would continue in northern Syria until the terrorism threats in the region reached a level that would "not disturb our citizens."

Turkey launched an unprecedented cross-border offensive into Syria last Wednesday, saying it was aimed at ridding the frontier of both Islamic State group and Kurdish militias.

Kurds have carved out a semi-autonomous region in Syria's north and northeast, with their People's Protection Units (YPG) becoming a key partner of the US-led coalition fighting IS.

The YPG is also a key component of the SDF, which groups diverse factions battling the extremists.

Ankara fears the emergence of an autonomous Kurdish region in Syria would bolster the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) across the border in southeastern Turkey.

At the weekend Turkish forces killed several Kurdish fighters while its tanks rolled across the border to help Syrian Arab rebels rout IS from the frontier district of Jarabulus.

The military operation triggered alarm bells in Washington, which is trying to contain the violence between its Turkish and Kurdish allies.

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