Vice President Mike Pence announces cease-fire agreement with Turkey in Syria

David Choi
Recep Tayyip Erdogan Donald Trump

Pool Photo via AP


  • Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday announced that the US had brokered a five-day cease-fire agreement with Turkey, which launched a military offensive against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria last week.
  • President Donald Trump said on Twitter that it was "great news" and thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
  • Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, disputed Pence's characterization of a cease-fire, saying it was merely a "pause" until Kurdish forces vacate the area.
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Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday announced that the US had brokered a five-day cease-fire agreement with Turkey, which launched a military offensive against US-backed Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria last week.

Pence said the US would work with the People's Protection Units, a Kurdish-majority militia, to ensure an orderly withdrawal of Kurdish forces from a 20-mile safe zone along the border, where Turkey plans to resettle 2 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey.

Turkey is expected to agree to a permanent cease-fire after the withdrawal, Pence added.

"Let me say this also includes an agreement by Turkey to engage in no military action against the community of Kobani," Pence said in a press conference. "And in addition, the United States and Turkey have both mutually committed to a peaceful resolution and future for the safe zone, working on an international basis to ensure that peace and security defines this border region with Syria."

President Donald Trump praised the decision as "great news" and "an amazing outcome."

"Millions of lives will be saved," Trump said in a tweet thanking Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, disputed Pence's characterization of a cease-fire, saying it was merely a "pause" until Kurdish forces vacate the area.

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Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Turkey this week to express concerns about Turkey's offensive in Syria. Numerous reports of civilian casualties and escapes of ISIS-linked prisoners have emerged amid the fight between the Kurds and Turkish-backed militants.

Erdogan is scheduled to meet Trump at the White House in mid-November.

Last week, Trump condemned the Turkish assault in Syria and threatened to "totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey." The Trump administration followed up by levying sanctions against Turkish officials and saying it would increase tariffs on steel imports to 50%.

Pence said on Thursday that no new sanctions against Turkey would be imposed and that the existing sanctions would be withdrawn once a permanent cease-fire is in effect.

Attacks by Turkish forces and their partners in northeastern Syria have killed numerous Kurdish fighters and civilians. Turkey has long viewed the People's Protection Units of the majority-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces as terrorists.

Though estimates of civilian casualties vary widely, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it believed at least 72 civilians had been killed, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Trump earlier this month abruptly announced he would withdraw US troops from the area, a decision he said was based on his commitment to limiting the US's military presence in the Middle East.

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