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Syrian Kurds urge US to press Turkey for ceasefire

Saturday - October 19, 2019 3:54 pm , Category : WORLD
Damascus, Oct 19 (IANS) Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Saturday called on the US to pressure Turkey to comply with the five-day ceasefire and open a humanitarian corridor for the evacuation of civilian victims from the besieged border city of Ras al-Ain in northern Syria.
 
SDF commander, Mazlum Abdi, said in a statement that his side pledged to abide by the 120-hour truce reached on Thursday between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US Vice President Mike Pence, Efe news reported.
 
"The Turkish side continued its attack in violation of the ceasefire," Abdi said.
 
"It also does not allow the opening of a safe corridor to evacuate the wounded and civilians, trapped in the city of Ras al-Ain/Sari Kanyeh, despite the fact that 30 hours have passed since the announcement of the ceasefire."
 
Turkey launched an offensive on northeastern Syrian border on October 9 shortly after the US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the remaining troops from the region.
 
One of the reasons Turkey launched the Syrian offensive was because Turkish authorities wanted to secure what it calls a safe-zone, which would extend some 32 km into northern Syria, stretching from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border.
 
As well as using the area to re-home some of the roughly 4 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, the Ankara government wants to avoid the creation of a Kurdish state-let along its border.
 
Abdi pointed out Pence and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "have a responsibility to oblige Turkey to implement the ceasefire and open the corridor, according to the understandings with the US side".
 
"Despite the constant communication with the American side and the promise made by them to solve this problem, there has not been any tangible progress in this regard," he continued.
 
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, reported that at least 14 civilians were killed on Friday in Turkish airstrikes on Ras al-Ain.
 
On Friday, Pompeo said in Brussels that he was confident the ceasefire would be implemented and played down reports of clashes since the beginning of the truce.
 
Ankara views the Kurdish-led People's Protection Units (YPG) as indistinguishable from their more habitual enemies, the Kurdistan's Workers Party PKK, which has fought a decades-long insurgency in southeast Turkey.
 

--IANS ksk