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Pence and Pompeo Announce Cease-Fire Between Turkey and Kurds

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Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Thursday that Turkey has agreed to a five-day ceasefire to allow Kurdish forces to withdraw, and to a complete end to military operations after the Kurdish withdrawal.

“One week ago Turkish forces crossed into Syria,” Pence recounted at a news conference with Pompeo in Ankara, Turkey.

“Earlier this week, President Trump took decisive action to call on Turkish forces to stand down, to end the violence, to agree to negotiations,” the vice president continued, “and today I’m proud to report, thanks to the strong leadership of President Donald Trump and the strong relationship between President Erdogan and Turkey and the United States of America that today the United States and Turkey have agreed to a ceasefire in Syria.”

 

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Pence explained that the terms of the ceasefire call for Kurdish YPG forces to withdraw from the “safe zone” along a 20-mile portion of Syria’s northeast border with Turkey.

Turkey’s incursion into Syria dubbed “Operation Peace Spring” will be “halted entirely on completion of the withdraw,” the vice president said.

The announcement came following a lengthy meeting on Thursday in Ankara between Pence, Pompeo, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other representatives from the U.S. and Turkey.

Pence also conveyed that the two nations are “mutually committed to the defeat ISIS activities in northeast Syria,” including ensuring the detention of the so-called Islamic State combatants.

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‘Turkey and the United States agree on the priority of respecting vulnerable human life, human rights, and particularly the protection of religious and ethnic communities in the region,” the vice president added.

Trump celebrated the news in a series of tweets.

“This is a great day for civilization,” the president wrote. “I am proud of the United States for sticking by me in following a necessary, but somewhat unconventional, path. People have been trying to make this ‘Deal’ for many years. Millions of lives will be saved. Congratulations to ALL!”

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He added, “This deal could NEVER have been made 3 days ago. There needed to be some ‘tough’ love in order to get it done. Great for everybody. Proud of all!”

Trump had threatened to destroy Turkey’s economy if the military operations continued and had authorized the imposition of sanctions earlier this week.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — who has been one of harshest critics of Trump’s decision to withdraw a small contingent of U.S. forces from the Syrian border ahead of Turkey’s invasion — expressed optimism at the news of a ceasefire.

Graham tweeted, “Sounds like we may have made real progress regarding a cease-fire and hopefully a sustainable solution that will prevent the reemergence of ISIS and the abandonment of our ally, the Kurds.”

“I stand ready to continue working with the President to build upon this breakthrough,” he added.

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