In Brief

Trump celebrates as Turkey calls ceasefire in Syria

US president says ‘millions of lives will be saved’ - but analysts doubt Kurds will comply

Turkey has agreed to a ceasefire in northern Syria, to let Kurdish-led forces withdraw, at a meeting between US Vice-President Mike Pence and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Under the terms of the deal, all fighting will pause for five days, and Washington will help the withdrawal of Kurdish-led troops from what Turkey terms a “safe zone” on the border.

 The agreement could halt “the latest bloodshed in Syria’s long war”, reports The Guardian, but CNN says it “appears to give Turkey everything it wants,” forcing the Kurds, “America's one-time allies in the fight against Isis” to cede “a vast swath of territory”.

Donald Trump welcomed the deal. “Great news out of Turkey!” he wrote on Twitter, just before Pence announced the deal. “Millions of lives will be saved.”

He later told the media that the ceasefire was “a great day for civilisation”, and praised Erdogan as “a hell of a leader”.

However, there are doubts about whether the Kurdish YPG will fully comply with the agreement. Many Syrian Kurds feel that the deal gives Turkey what it sought from the start: removal of Kurdish-led forces from the border.

“Our people did not want this war,” the Kurdish political leader Saleh Muslim told local television. “We welcome the ceasefire, but we will defend ourselves in the event of any attack… Ceasefire is one thing and surrender is another thing, and we are ready to defend ourselves. We will not accept the occupation of northern Syria.”

Commander Mazloum Kobani of the Syrian Democratic Forces said that although Kurdish-led forces would observe the agreement in the area where fighting has been fierce, he had “not discussed the fate of other areas”.

The news of the ceasefire came after a report in The Times that Turkey has used white phosphorus against Kurdish civilians during the offensive. Kurdish leaders have accused Turkish forces of using the chemical, which is banned for use on civilian targets by the Geneva and Chemical Weapons conventions.

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