Kurdish forces accuse Turkey of breaching cease-fire, urge U.S. to shoulder responsibility

Xinhua News Agency | Oct 18, 2019 at 5:33 PM

DAMASCUS, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Friday accused the Turkish forces of violating the cease-fire agreement in northern Syria, urging the U.S. to send observers to monitor the cease-fire.

In a statement, the SDF said its forces have abided by the cease-fire agreement that was reached the previous day between Turkey and the U.S. regarding temporary halting the Turkish operation against the Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

It said the Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebels didn't commit to the deal and attacked the town of Bad al-Kheir in the countryside of Ayn al-Ayn city in northeastern Syria, killing five SDF fighters and a number of civilians.

"Hundred of thousands of civilians have been displaced since Turkey launched its campaign last week," said the SDF statement, urging the UN, the Arab League and "particularly" the U.S. to send observers to monitor the implementation of the cease-fire.

On Oct. 9, Turkey and Syrian rebel groups started an assault to eliminate Kurdish forces in northern Syria in order to end what Turkey perceives as the threat of "terrorist and separatist" groups on its southern border and to impose a safe zone to host millions of Syrian refugees.

On Thursday evening, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Turkey has agreed to a cease-fire in Syria, under which the SDF must dismantle their defensive fortifications and pull troops from the border area.

Following his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, Pence announced that the Turkish military operations will be paused for five days, adding the United States will help facilitate an "orderly withdrawal" of Kurdish-led troops from what Turkey has termed as a "safe zone" on the Syrian-Turkish border.

The cease-fire agreement comes a week after Turkey launched a crushing offensive to eliminate the Kurdish forces from border areas with Turkey and to resettle millions of Syrian refugees in the so-called "safe zone" that will be supervised by Turkey.