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BREAKING: US and Turkey Reach Ceasefire in Syria

October 17, 2019

On Oct. 17, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the Turkish government has agreed to a permanent ceasefire in Northern Syria. Pence — accompanied by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien — met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, seeking to reach a ceasefire that would end the Turkish assault on the Kurds, an Iranian ethnic group located within Northern Syria. 

In the past, the United States have allied themselves with the Kurds, and President Trump pledged to protect them from any attack on their territory from Turkey. Soon after this, Trump announced his plans to withdraw US troops from Syria, which was met with an overwhelming negative reception from both the public and Congress. According to NBC, the House of Representatives passed a measure condemning Trump’s decisions by a wide margin of 354 to 60, with nearly two-thirds of House Republicans approving the resolution. 

President Trump took several shots at Erdoğan this week, using Twitter, speeches and even a letter to try to get his message across to the Turkish President. Trump warned them that the US had the capability to destroy the Turkish economy. While he did not want to do anything to harm Turkey’s government, he claimed that he would not hesitate to do so if Turkey did not comply with the U.S.’s requests. However, Turkey ignored Trump’s warnings, with one report from the BBC claiming that Erdoğan threw a letter from Trump in the trash.

Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria led to some worrying that the Kurds would be left defenseless against the Turkish government, and the lack of protection from the United States may have catastrophic results. Pence explained that the ceasefire would have Turkey halt their invasion for five days to give the Kurds time to withdraw from the safe zone along the border. After those five days, the United States would work with Turkey and other countries to regulate the border between Turkey and Syria. Pence also noted that the United States would remain involved in Syria, just not militarily. The U.S. will no longer impose sanctions upon Turkey, including the economic sanctions Trump recently imposed upon Turkey. 

In exchange for a ceasefire, the Turkish government requested that the Kurds dismantle their defense fortifications and withdraw from the border entirely. Both sides see this deal as a win for their country, with Pence citing the end of the violence in the region, and Turkish officials telling CNN that they believed their military operation in the region paid off. One of the biggest remaining questions regarding this issue is how the US will monitor and enforce this ceasefire, which will likely remain a prominent topic in the news for the next few days to come. 

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