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Turkey to 'completely end' Syria offensive upon Kurdish withdrawal, Pence confirms following ceasefire talks

Pence travelled to Turkey on Thursday for talks on Syria [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 October, 2019

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The US and Turkey agreed a five-day ceasefire in northeastern Syria to allow Kurdish forces to withdraw, upon which Turkey will halt its offensive, Pence reported after talks in Ankara.

Turkey has agreed to completely end military operations in northern Syria after Kurdish fighters withdraw from a safe zone, US Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday.

Turkey's operation "will be halted entirely on completion" of the pullout, Pence told reporters after talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.

The operation will be halted for five days to allow the withdrawal, and ended on the condition the Kurdish YPG militia completely withdraw from the area.

The agreement was later confirmed by Turkey’s foreign minister.

"We are suspending the operation, not halting it," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told journalists in Ankara. "We will halt the operation only after (Kurdish militants) completely withdraw from the region."

Pence also confirmed the will not impose further sanctions on Turkey after it agreed to a ceasefire deal.

US President Donald Trump hailed "great news" following the talks between his vice president and the Turkish leader.

"Great news out of Turkey," Trump tweeted, shortly before Vice President Mike Pence announced in Ankara that Turkey had agreed to end its military operation once Kurdish fighters withdraw from a safe zone.

"Millions of lives will be saved!" Trump wrote.

Trump's chief of staff had earlier said the president may revoke a White House invitation extended to Erdogan, depending on the outcome of the talks in Ankara.

"It's still on the schedule," Mike Mulvaney told reporters, "but I think that's one of those wait and see things."

"The president's been very clear about what he wants to see out of President Erdogan," he added.

The US-led coalition announced the withdrawal of the last American troops from Raqqa and Aleppo provinces on Wednesday night.

After striking a groundbreaking deal with the Syrian regime, Assad’s Russian-backed forces have been taking over swathes of territory held by the Kurdish-led SDF militia.

Regime troops entered Kobane, also known as Ain Al-Arab, on Wednesday night, after taking over Manbij and Tal Rifaat.

Turkey launched 'Operation Peace Spring' on 9 October to take territories from the SDF with thousands of Syrian fighters taking Tal Abyad and other border towns.

The offensive has displaced more than 300,000 people, and killed over 100 including 71 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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