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Turkey, Kurds Exchange Accusations on Syria Ceasefire Violation

Turkey, Kurds Exchange Accusations on Syria Ceasefire Violation

Saturday, 19 October, 2019 - 09:00
Turkey-backed Syrian fighters drive on top of a truck to cross into Syria, near the border town of Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkey on Saturday accused Kurdish forces of violating a US-brokered agreement to suspend its military operation in northeastern Syria if they withdraw from a safe zone along the border.

"The Turkish armed forces fully abide by the agreement" reached on Thursday with the United States, the defense ministry said in a statement. "Despite this, terrorists ... carried out a total of 14 attacks in the last 36 hours."

But the Kurdish forces said Turkey was failing to abide by the terms of the ceasefire, refusing to lift a siege it imposed on a key border town in northeastern Syria 30 hours after the truce went into effect.

The Syrian Democratic Forces called on US Vice President Mike Pence, who negotiated the deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to take responsibility for enforcing the five-day ceasefire, which got off to a rocky start, with sporadic fighting and shelling around Ras al-Ain Friday.

The border town is a test for the deal in which Turkey asks that Kurdish fighters vacate the frontier zone.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday that Turkey-backed Syrian fighters have prevented a medical convoy from reaching Ras al-Ain since Friday.

Turkey will set up a dozen observation posts across northeast Syria, Erdogan said on Friday, insisting that the planned safe zone will extend much farther than US officials said was covered under the fragile ceasefire deal.

Less than 24 hours after he agreed the truce to allow Kurdish forces time to pull back from Turkey's crossborder assault, Erdogan underlined Ankara's ambition to establish a presence along 300 miles of territory inside Syria.

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