On October 19th, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the northern Syrian offensive would continue if the Kurdish militias haven’t withdrawn from the region within 120 hours.
“If agreement with the U.S. is not implemented, then we will continue crushing heads of terrorists a minute after 120 hours,” he said. “If promises given to Turkey are not kept as in the past, we will resume the operation after pause.”
Erdogan further said that Syrian Arab Army units were present in some areas of Turkey’s counter-terrorism operation and that he would speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin when he meets him in Sochi on October 22nd.
“We will discuss the issue with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. We need to find a solution.”
And the ceasefire itself, didn’t specifically last long, as there were breaches approximately 1 hour after it was “enforced.”
#UPDATE Deadly Turkish air strikes on Friday shattered an hours-old US-brokered deal to stop Ankara's military offensive against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria https://t.co/6JpgTOFFLh #RasAlAin pic.twitter.com/r5UWV46uKf
— AFP news agency (@AFP) October 18, 2019
The Kurdish side immediately accused the Turkish forces of breaching it.
“Despite the agreement to halt the fighting, air and artillery attacks continue to target the positions of fighters, civilian settlements and the hospital” in Ras al-Ayn, tweeted Mustafa Bali, the chief spokesperson for the northeastern Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). “Turkey is violating the ceasefire agreement by continuing to attack the town since last night.”
Ilham Ahmed, a leading Syrian Kurdish politician, tweeted the same claim.
“Despite the cease-fire deal, the Turks are still continuing airstrikes and ground offensive against Ras al Ain. Some civilians have been killed in Turkish strikes, as they were trying to save some injured (people) stuck inside the city,” she wrote.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based conflict monitor, found that Turkish forces targeted medical and aid organizations — including an unnamed American one — in the town to stop the evacuation of injured civilians. The SOHR isn’t specifically the most trustworthy source of information, since it has earlier repeatedly provided information similar to that provided by the White Helmets “rescue group.”
Erdogan himself said that there were no clashes between Turkish forces and Kurdish troops, but that it was the US’ responsibility to make sure the Kurds didn’t breach the ceasefire.
“If America can keep its promise at the end of the 120 hours, the issue of a safe zone will be resolved,” Erdogan said. “But if this promise is not fulfilled, we will continue with the operation with greater resolve than where we left off, the minute after 120 hours has ended.”
The Turkish president called reports of clashes “disinformation.”
“Reports of clashes between Turkish forces and YPG/PKK terrorists in the safe zone is nothing but disinformation,” Erdogan said.
US President Donald Trump said he had spoke to Erdogan and that there was minor sniper fire and mortar shelling, but the ceasefire was holding.
Just spoke to President @RTErdogan of Turkey. He told me there was minor sniper and mortar fire that was quickly eliminated. He very much wants the ceasefire, or pause, to work. Likewise, the Kurds want it, and the ultimate solution, to happen. Too bad there wasn’t…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2019
It’s very apparent that the ceasefire is a complete failure and there’s very little interest on Turkey’s part to keep it. Despite all the negative propaganda in MSM and diplomatic rhetoric.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Turkish Forces Renew Their Attack Around Ras al-Ayn
- Erdogan Says He Has No Objection To Damascus’ Control Over Northeastern Syria