Calm reigns in northeast Syria as fragile U.S.-Turkey ceasefire holds

A fragile ceasefire was holding along Turkey’s border with Syria on Saturday, two days after President Tayyip Erdogan agreed the truce to allow Kurdish forces time to pull back from Ankara’s cross-border assault.

Erdogan agreed the truce during talks in Ankara on Thursday with U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence on stemming a humanitarian crisis, which has put 200,000 civilians to flight in northeast Syria, and easing a security scare over thousands of Islamic State captives guarded by the Kurdish YPG militia targeted in Turkey’s assault.

Turkey’s defence ministry said on Saturday there had been 14 “provocative attacks” from Syria in the past 36 hours but said it was continuing to coordinate closely with the United States to allow the agreement to be implemented.

bombardment heard near the Syrian border town of Ras al Ain on Friday morning had subsided. They saw just a few Turkish military vehicles crossing the frontier on Saturday morning.

The truce sets out a five-day pause to let the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia pull out of a “safe zone” Turkey has vowed to create in territory extending more than 30 km (about 20 miles) deep into Syria.

Ankara regards the YPG, the SDF’s main Kurdish component, a terrorist group because of its links to Kurdish insurgents operating in southeast Turkey.

Turkey’s defence ministry said Defence Minister Hulusi Akar had urged his U.S. counterpart Mark Esper in a telephone call late on Friday to ensure that YPG forces withdrew from the zone within the 120-hour period agreed under the truce.

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