image Photo: Reuters

Turkish army to remain in declared Syrian “safe zone”

The Turkish military operation, dubbed by Ankara “Peace Spring” will not expand beyond the so-called “safe zone,” effectively bringing the wide-scale hostilities in northeast Syria to an end. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said following the announcement that there was no need to initiate another military offensive in his country’s southern neighbor, outside of the current area of operation, after Kurdish militias – in accordance with U.S. assurances and a subsequent agreement with Russia – withdrew from Turkey’s border-region.  According to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, “Last night, we got in touch with Americans and as a result, according to the information our U.S. counterparts and friends have given to us, there are no terrorists left in Ras Al Ain and Tel Abyad. We got verbal and written statements saying they have left the region entirely and we shared this information with Turkish public. Therefore, for the moment it seems there is no need for another operation outside the area of our current operation.”

In accordance with the MoscowAnkara agreement Russian forces arrived in the strategic border-city of Kobani yesterday for the purpose of overseeing a withdrawal of Kurdish militants alongside Syrian regime forces. Upon entry, Moscow warned the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, particularly its most powerful militia YPG, that that failure to withdraw from Syria’s entire northeastern border would result in further armed conflict with Turkey. It is important to note that the city of Kobani is of special significance to the Kurdish fighters, who fought off Islamic State militants trying to seize the city in 2014 and 2015, in one of the fiercest battles of Syria‘s civil war.

Meanwhile in Washington U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he has instructed Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin to lift all sanctions imposed by Washington on Ankara on the 14th of October in light of the Turkish decision to end their military operation in Syria. The U.S. President said “Early this morning, the government of Turkey informed my administration that they would be stopping combat, and their offensive in Syria, and making the cease fire permanent, and it will indeed be permanent. However, you would also define the word permanent in that part of the world, is somewhat questionable. We all understand that, but I do believe it will be permanent. I’ve therefore instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to lift all sanctions imposed on October 14th.”

President Trump also rejected claims that the Russian’s were responsible for the end of hostilities in northern Syria – emphasizing that “This was an outcome created by us, the United States, and nobody else, no other nation, very simple.”

With regard to the American forces lest in the war-torn country; President Trump underscored that “A very small number of U.S. troops will remain in the area where they have the oil, and we’re going to be protecting it, and we’ll be deciding what we’re going to do with it in the future.”