VOA reported yesterday:

With the withdrawal set to end Tuesday evening local time, Erdogan is warning Washington of its responsibilities to enforce it.

"We expect our American allies to keep their promises this time," he said Sunday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu further ratcheted up the pressure on Washington.

"We have 35 hours left. If they don't withdraw, our operation will resume. This is also what we agreed with the Americans."

SDF forces are reported to have withdrawn from Ras Al-Ayn in northeastern Syria. The town was the center of the heaviest fighting in the Turkish operation.

Ankara is demanding the withdrawal of all Kurdish militia from a 450-kilometer-long strip to a 30-kilometer-deep strip from the Turkish frontier. The SDF maintains it only agreed with Washington to a partial withdrawal.

Adding to the confusion, analysts point out that the U.S.-Turkey deal does not specify the parameters of the withdrawal and size of a "safe zone" that Ankara seeks to create.

The ambiguity is heightening suspicions that Washington struck different deals with the SDF and Ankara in a bid to score a diplomatic victory, albeit a temporary one.

"V.P. Pence's Ankara visit looks as if the point was to merely announce a 'deal' rather than to implement one," said former senior Turkish diplomatic Aydin Selcen. "Whether Pence and (Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo's duo actions are directed to cater to White House's internal political narrative or towards achieving tangible change is beyond me."

They also interviewed SDF's commander Mazloum Abdi:

Question: You have accepted the U.S.-Turkish deal that was announced last week. What do you say about it?

Abdi: "We haven't accepted the U.S.-Turkey deal in its entirety. We have only agreed to the cease-fire. Our forces have already withdrawn from Ras al-Ayn and Tel Abyad. In return, Turkey would commit to a permanent cease-fire in those areas with the U.S. being a guarantor. As for other details of their agreement, nobody has discussed them with us. Therefore, we do not accept them. We have relied on the U.S. narrative of the agreement, which says that the [Turkish] operation will be limited to those two towns. We will never accept the Turkish narrative, which says that Turkish forces will enter all areas in northern Syria along the border with Turkey."

Has the US clarified in the meantime where from does the US (rather than Turkey) expect the SDF to withdraw?

1 Answer 1


Apparently the answer is that the US is happy with however the SDF interpreted that:

“Today the Vice President received a letter from General Mazloum (Kobani) notifying him that all SDF forces have withdrawn from the relevant area of operations,” said Pence spokeswoman Katie Waldman. “The Vice President welcomes this development and sees it as having satisfied the terms of the 17 October agreement, as pertains to the withdrawal of the YPG.”

Turkey however is another matter, as they've struck a deal with Putin which sets a new deadline (during which there's still ceasefire) for the SDF to comply with the joint Russian-Turkish demands. And Erdogan was apparently not happy with US-SDF interpretation:

After the Sochi talks, Turkish broadcaster NTV quoted Erdogan as saying the United States “has not fully kept its promises” under last week’s temporary truce.

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