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Turkey Violates Ceasefire, Shells Still Fall in Northeast Syria

Shelling might be heard at the Syrian-Turkish frontier on Friday morning regardless of a five-day ceasefire agreed between Turkey and…

By Ronald Snow , in Defense News , at October 18, 2019 9:07 AM EDT Tags: , , ,

Shelling might be heard at the Syrian-Turkish frontier on Friday morning regardless of a five-day ceasefire agreed between Turkey and the U.S., and Washington said the deal covered only a small part of the territory Ankara aims to capture.

Journalists at the frontier heard machine-gun fire and shelling and saw smoke emerging from the Syrian border battlefield city of Ras al-Ain early on Friday, though the sounds of fighting later fallen by mid-morning.

The truce, declared on Thursday by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence after discussions in Ankara with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, sets out a five-day stand to let the Kurdish-led SDF militia withdraw from an area managed by Turkish forces.

The SDF said air and artillery assaults continued to target its positions in addition to civilian targets in Ral al-Ain: “Turkey is dishonoring the ceasefire settlement by continuing to attack the city since last night,” SDF spokesperson Mustafa Bali wrote on Twitter.

The deal was aimed at easing a crisis that saw U.S. President Donald Trump order a hasty and unexpected U.S. retreat, which his critics say amounted to abandoning loyal Kurdish allies that fought for years beside U.S. troops against Islamic State.

Turkey cast it as a complete win in its campaign to manage a strip of border territory hundreds of miles long and 20 miles deep, along with main Kurdish-held towns and cities.

However, the U.S. special envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, stated the settlement fell short of that purpose, protecting only a region where Turkish forces have been already operating.