Tuesday, 12 November, 2019

US Keeps Flying Drones Over Kurdish Syria; Turk's Ceasefire Shaky

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Patty Aguilar | 20 October, 2019, 14:55

"If promises given to Turkey are not kept as in the past, we will resume the operation after pause", Erdogan said.

A senior Syrian Kurdish official acknowledged for the first time that the Kurdish-led forces agreed to the pullback, stating that his forces would move 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of the border.

Some fighters have vowed not to withdraw, calling the accord an "insult to Kurdish dignity" and tantamount to a surrender arranged by the US, the former ally that abandoned them to the Turkish assault.

Under an agreement made by the US and Turkey on Thursday, a five-day cease-fire has been in place. A senior Kurdish politician, Ilham Ahmed, was due in Washington over the weekend to meet USA officials.

Criticism mounted for a deal that President Donald Trump called "a great day for civilization".

Global outcry had mounted at the offensive by NATO-member Turkey, including from European leaders slapping arms boycotts on Ankara and U.S. President Donald Trump threatening to "ruin" Turkey's economy if it overstepped.

On Friday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the USA withdrawal of troops from Syria is going as planned. We will discuss this matter with Mr. (Vladimir) Putin on Tuesday because we have to find a solution. Abandoned by the US, the Kurds made a deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who's troops have deployed to the border with Turkey, upending old alliances and pushing the eight-year-old Syrian war into an unpredictable new phase. Syrian forces have already moved into several sites previously under Kurdish control.

Ahmed, the Kurdish official, said the cease-fire deal doesn't impact the agreement with Russian Federation and Damascus.

And in its pursuit of these fighters there are now fears that Turkey's invasion could end up ethnically cleansing the Kurdish population from its border with northern Syria. He said that the Kurdish-led force was preparing to conduct that evacuation Sunday, if there were no further delays.

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"The Turkish side isn't committing to the ceasefire and isn't permitting the launching of a safety corridor to evacuate the injured and surrounded civilians from Ras al-Ain", Khalil told AFP.

He said only after that will his force pull back from a 120-kilometer (75-mile) area between the towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tal-Aybad.

Other activists reported a new exodus of civilians from the villages.

Redur Khalil of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has been supplied USA weaponry in the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants in the region, said late on October 19 that SDF troops will move back 30 kilometers from the Turkish-Syrian border in a 120-kilometer stretch between Ras al-Ayn and Tal Aybad if the evacuations are permitted of those cities.

According to the Kurdish Red Crescent, 44 civilians were killed and 171 wounded since the attack began on October 9.

On Friday, Pompeo said in Brussels that he was confident the ceasefire would be implemented and played down reports of clashes since the beginning of the truce.

But Trump and Erdogan insisted it was working.

"I just spoke to President Erdogan".

Khalifa said if it was the latter and the USA agreed to a full YPG withdrawal from a 30-km area along the entire 400-km border strip then the United States, in search for a face-saving deal, has chose to capitulate to Turkish demands and claim it is a deal reached through negotiations. Some analysts and politicians criticized President Trump for removing America forces, saying it was a "green light" for Ankara to invade Syria and fight the Kurds. No U.S. ground forces, Esper said, will help in the enforcement of the safe zone.

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