Two days have passed since Donald Trump hailed an announced cease-fire in Syria between the attacking Turkish military and Kurds who have made northeastern Syria their home “a great day for civilization.” This was so even as Middle East experts described the agreement brokered by United States Vice President Mike Pence as a “surrender.”
On October 19, reports out of the region say that Turkey is largely ignoring the agreement, and using the ceasefire as cover to continue seizing land previously held by Kurds.
“Turkey is using the ceasefire to continue to advance and take territory in and around the border city of Ras al-Ayn,” reported NBC News foreign correspondent Richard Engel. Via his Twitter account on Saturday, he cited information provided to him by a senior U.S. official as well as a top Kurdish commander.
Engel also cited Kurdish General Mazlum Kobane, saying that even as he attempts to retreat from Ras al-Ayn, Turkish forces are preventing the Kurds’ escape. He alleged that Turkey’s intention is to kill Kurds, not to allow them safe passage out of the region as the ceasefire agreement requires.
Even as Turkish troops are reportedly blocking the Kurds’ evacuation, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that if the Kurds had not completely departed the 20-mile-deep so-called “safe zone” at the Turkey-Syria border, he would restart an all-out military assault, This news came via a BBC report.
“We will start where we left off and continue to crush the terrorists’ heads,” Erdoğan said at a press conference Saturday, as quoted by the BBC. The Turkish government routinely refers to the Kurds as “terrorists.”
A report Saturday by The Jerusalem Post confirmed that “Syrian forces, most probably supported by Turkey,” were violating the ceasefire agreement by attacking Ras al-Ayn and other “key locations” in the border area. The Post reported that fighting in that area never stopped, despite the announced ceasefire agreement.
The Israeli newspaper also reported that the “fragile ceasefire” was holding along most areas of the Syria-Turkey border in the Kurdish region. The source quoted Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who echoed Erdoğan’s threat to continue the assault if Kurds have not fully departed the region by Tuesday.
“In this time, the terrorists will withdraw from the safe zone, their weapons will be collected and position destroyed,” Akar said via The Jerusalem Post. If this doesn’t happen, we will continue the operation.”
On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledged that sporadic fighting had continued after the ceasefire announcement, but claimed that it had quickly stopped. Trump also claimed that the region was now safe and that both Turkey and the Kurds were pleased — and that the U.S. had somehow “taken control of the oil” in the region, an assertion that left experts on energy policy as well as on the Middle East baffled, as The Inquisitr reported.