Turkey and USA agreed on Thursday to freeze Turkey’s anti-terrorist “Operation Peace Spring” in northern Syria, following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence in Ankara.
“Turkey’s military operation will stop for 120 hours”, US vice president Mike Pence stated during a press conference at the US Embassy in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
As the US Vice President noted, the withdrawal of the YPG/PKK fighters from the safe zone has already begun, a fact that has led to the pausing of Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria.
The highlights of the 13-point US-Turkey Joint Declaration are:
– Turkey guarantees that it will ensure the safety of citizens in the areas of the safe zone, which it will control.
– Both sides agree on co-operating on the concentration and destruction of YPG’s heavy weapons and on the obsolescence of the YPG strongholds.
– The safe zone will be under the Turkish Armed Forces’ control and the two sides will work together to maintain it.
– The Turkish side will pause its Operation Peace Spring by acquiring guarantees for YPG’s withdrawal within 120 hours. In case of departure the business will be terminated.
Cavusoglu’s statement turned heads, when he implied that they agreed with Mike Pence that when it came to other areas -such as Kobani and Manbij- the United States painted out Russia to be the responsible one, passing the ball over to Moscow.
Through this agreement with the US, Ankara will basically have achieved its goal of having a safe zone which will be controlled from Tell Abyad up to the Ras al-Ayn area, thus covering a length of 120 kilometers and an area of 3300 square kilometers within Syria.
JOINT TURKISH-US STATEMENT ON NORTHEAST SYRIA
- The US and Turkey reaffirm their relationship as fellow members of NATO. The US understands Turkey’s legitimate security concerns on Turkey’s southern border.
- Turkey and the US agree that the conditions on the ground, northeast Syria in particular, necessitate closer coordination on the basis of common interests.
- Turkey and the US remain committed to protecting NATO territories and NATO populations against all threats with the solid understanding of “one for all and all for one”.
- The two countries reiterate their pledge to uphold human life, human rights, and the protection of religious and ethnic communities.
- Turkey and the US are committed to D-ISIS/DAESH activities in northeast Syria. This will include coordination on detention facilities and internally displaced persons from formerly ISIS/DAESH-controlled areas, as appropriate.
- Turkey and the US agree that counter-terrorism operations must target only terrorists and their hideouts, shelters, emplacements, weapons, vehicles and equipment.
- The Turkish side expressed its commitment to ensure safety and well-being of residents of all population centers in the safe zone controlled by the Turkish Forces (safe zone) and reiterated that maximum care will be exercised in order not to cause harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure.Both countries reiterate their commitment to the political unity and territorial integrity of Syria and UN-led political process, which aims at ending the Syrian conflict in accordance with UNSCR 2254.
- The two sides agreed on the continued importance and functionality of a safe zone in order to address the national security concerns of Turkey, to include the re-collection of YPG heavy weapons and the disablement of their fortifications and all other fighting positions.
- The safe zone will be primarily enforced by the Turkish Armed Forces and the two sides will increase their cooperation in all dimensions of its implementation.
- The Turkish side will pause Operation Peace Spring in order to allow the withdrawal of YPG from the safe zone within 120 hours. Operation Peace Spring will be halted upon completion of this withdrawal.
- Once Operation Peace Spring is paused, the US agrees not to pursue further imposition of sanctions under the Executive Order of October 14, 2019, Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Syria, and will work and consult with Congress, as appropriate, to underline the progress being undertaken to achieve peace and security in Syria, in accordance with UNSCR 2254. Once Operation Peace Spring is halted as per paragraph 11 the current sanctions under the aforementioned Executive Order shall be lifted.
- Both parties are committed to work together to implement/ibna