Syrian Kurds accuse Turkey of violating ceasefire


The Syrian Kurds expressed further uncertainty about a ceasefire agreement that was already vague on key points and left unanswered key questions.

The self-governing authority said that some provisions of the ceasefire agreement "require further talks with the United States."

It was not specified which provisionsBut the Kurds have not made a public commitment to a central provision of the agreement – the withdrawal of their fighters from the border region. A spokesman for the Kurdish-led fighters said on Friday that they would not withdraw from Ras al-Ayn because the Turkish forces are still besieging and shooting at them.

Criticism of the ceasefire agreement, which President Donald Trump called "a great day for civilization", increased. EU Council President Donald Tusk said it was "not a ceasefire, it is a call for the Kurds to surrender" and urged Turkey to immediately cease operations in Northeast Syria. French President Emmanuel Macron called the Turkish operation "madness".

In and around Ras al-Ayn, Turkish grenades fired from the city by a Associated Press journalist in Ceylanpinar on the Turkish side of the border were heard on Friday morning.

The UK-based Syrian Human Rights Observatory and the Rojava Information Center said the fighting continued into the afternoon when Turkish-backed Syrian fighters clashed with Kurdish forces in villages on the outskirts of Ras al-Ayn. The Kurdish-led force said five of its fighters had been killed and a number of civilians had been injured in a Turkish airstrike on one of the villages.

Other activists reported a renewed withdrawal of civilians from the villages. Shots and shots continued to be fired in a hospital in central Ras al-Ayn. The injured could not be evacuated, said Mustafa Bali, spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. The Kurdish Red Crescent said he could not enter the city because of fighting to evacuate the wounded.

Kurdish fighters said the fighting calmed down around 4:00 p.m.

In its statement, the Kurdish-led government stated that Turkey "has so far failed to comply with the ceasefire in some areas," particularly in Ras al-Ayn.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied any fighting on Friday and said the Kurdish fighters had started to withdraw, an allegation that the Kurds denied.

A senior US official said they were waiting for us Confirmation of the reported fights. The official said it took time to filter information down to field units, especially for armed forces without strong controls. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The ceasefire agreement, which was concluded in the Turkish capital after hours of negotiations between Erdogan and US Vice President Mike Pence, obliges the Kurdish militants to clear an area in Syria along the Turkish border. This agreement would largely consolidate Turkey's position after days of fighting. The Turks and Kurds do not seem to agree on the size of the area affected by the ceasefire. Turkey calls it a "break", not a ceasefire.

It remains unclear whether the Kurdish-led troop was on board with a retreat, even if there is a break in the fight.

Pence said the United States had already voted with her to withdraw. But American influence over the group has waned after Trump turned away from it and US soldiers withdrew from northeastern Syria to pave the way for the invasion of Turkey ten days ago.

The Kurdish force's commander, Mazloum Abdi, said Thursday evening that he would abide by the ceasefire and "will do our best to make it successful". He didn't mention retreat.

When asked to withdraw, a press spokesman, Mervan, said "so far there is nothing" and pointed to the continued siege of Ras al-Ayn. "It appears that they want to commit more massacres as part of this deal," he said. He uses a nom de guerre according to the group's regulations.

A member of the Syrian Kurds Violence precluded any withdrawal from the border cities by calling the US deal with Turkey "insulting" and saying "No, it will work."

"They believe we will leave our country and people to the Turks when asked to do so," he said. "You can come and take the country by force. Nobody should expect us to leave our country."

"How does the US think about getting a deal without a local presence?" he added on condition of anonymity that he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

In other places, there was no fighting on Friday along the border, which was the main theater of the Turkish attack and led from Ras al-Ayn about 125 kilometers west to the Turkish city of Tal Abyad. Kurdish fighters have already been driven out of most, but not all, of this area.

Trump has described the United States' ceasefire agreement with Turkey as "a great day for civilization", but it aims to offset a foreign policy crisis that is generally viewed as his own.

Turkish troops and their allied Syrian fighters launched the offensive two days after Trump suddenly announced that he would withdraw American troops from the border area. The Kurdish-led armed forces have since invited the Syrian government's Russian-backed military to station there to protect them from Turkey. Syrian troops have already entered several important points along the border.

The Kurds were allies in the fight against the United States the Islamic State since 2014, but Turkey regards the Kurdish fighters as terrorists because of their ties to banned Kurdish rebels who have been fighting in Turkey since the 1980s. Turkey said its security depended on moving it out of a "safe border zone".

Turkey's pro-government media welcomed the ceasefire agreement as a clear win for Erdogan. "Great Victory" was the headline of Yeni Safak. "Turkey got everything it wanted." Sabah's newspaper wrote: "We won both on the field and at the (negotiating) table."

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