ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence announced Thursday that Turkey has agreed to a cease-fire to allow the Kurdish forces it was battling to safely withdraw from an area in northern Syria.
Pence spoke after he and other U.S. officials met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara. He said that President Donald Trump made it clear that had Turkey not agreed, the U.S. would impose more economic sanctions. However, the agreement essentially gives the Turks what they had sought to achieve with their military operation in the first place, removal of the Kurdish forces from the border “safe zone.”
Pence said Turkey had agreed to a “pause in military operations for 120 hours” to allow the Kurds to withdraw. He said the U.S. and Turkey had “mutually committed to a peaceful resolution and future for the safe zone.”
After the Kurdish forces are cleared from the safe zone, Turkey has committed to a permanent cease-fire but is under no obligation to withdraw its troops. That, according to one U.S. official, is tantamount to allowing Turkey to occupy the safe zone.
In addition, the deal gives Turkey relief from sanctions the administration had imposed and threatened to impose since the invasion began, meaning there will be no penalty for the operation.