Scattered fighting flared in northern Syria on Friday despite the United States-brokered deal with Ankara, which requires Kurdish fighters to vacate a swathe of territory in Syria along the Turkish border.
The ceasefire agreement was reached in negotiations between Erdogan and US Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday.
Turkey launched its cross-border offensive on October 9, aiming to clear the region of Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), a group Ankara considers “terrorists” linked to Kurdish separatists on its soil.
The campaign, dubbed Operation Peace Spring, would also allow the repatriation of Syrian refugees, according to Turkish officials.
Republican leader slams Trump’s Syria withdrawal
US Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell attacked President Donald Trump‘s decision to pull troops from Syria as a “strategic nightmare”.
“Withdrawing US forces from Syria is a grave strategic mistake,” McConnell, the top Republican in Congress, wrote in the Washington Post.
“It will leave the American people and homeland less safe, embolden our enemies, and weaken important alliances.”
US ground troops will not enforce Syria safe-zone, says Esper
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said no US troops will take part in enforcing the so-called safe zone in northeast Syria and that Washington “is continuing our deliberate withdrawal from northeastern Syria”.
Speaking to reporters, Esper said he spoke with Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and reminded him of Ankara’s responsibility for maintaining the security of ISIL prisoners in areas affected by Turkey’s offensive.
Erdogan ‘satisfied’ with steps to strengthen US-Turkey ties
In a Twitter post, the Turkish leader said he spoke with US President Trump on the phone and expressed “satisfaction with the mutual steps we have taken to strengthen Turkish-American relations”.
Trump: Erdogan, Kurds want ceasefire to work
Following a phone call with Erdogan, Trump said the Turkish leader and Kurdish fighters want the ceasefire in northeast Syria to work.
Trump also announced European countries were willing to take back suspected ISIL fighters “that came from their nations” and currently being held in prisons in northeast Syria.