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Turkey Agrees To Ceasefire In Northern Syria To Allow Kurdish Withdrawal

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Turkey agreed to suspend its week-old military offensive targeting Kurdish troops fighting the Islamic State in Northeast Syria.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who on Tuesday refused his U.S. counterpart's request, agreed to a ceasefire after meeting with U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Ankara Thursday.

The Turkish side will pause all fighting, codenamed "Operation Peace Spring", to allow for the withdrawal of the fighters of the Kurdish YPG from the safe zone for 120 hours.

Turkey has agreed to a permanent ceasefire on completion of the withdrawal, Pence said at a news conference in the Turkish capital.

Pence said the Trump administration has already begun to facilitate the safe withdrawal of Syrian Defence Forces (SDF) from the 20-mile-wide safe zone area, south of the Turkish border in Syria.

Turkey has also agreed not to engage in any military action against the community of Kobani.

"The United States and Turkey have both mutually committed to a peaceful resolution and future for the safe zone, working on an international basis to ensure that peace and security defines this border region of Syria," Pence told reporters.

It is not clear if the Kurdish fighters will fully comply with the ceasefire.

BBC quoted Kurdish-led forces Commander Mazloum Kobani as saying that they would conform to the truce agreement in the area between the border towns of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad, where fighting has been fierce.

72 Syrians were killed and tens of thousands of others displaced over the past eight days, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

U.S.-Turkey relations were on the verge of a breakdown after Turkey's unilateral cross-border attack on Kurdish-led forces last week.

After the pull-out of U.S. forces, Turkish troops entered northern Syria to push the Kurdish-led SDF away from the border area, and to create a "safe zone" in Syrian border to resettle tens of thousands of Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.

In response to Turkey's deadly military offensive, the U.S. Government imposed economic sanctions on the Erdogan government Monday.

Pence said at the news conference that once a permanent ceasefire is in effect, Trump has agreed to withdraw the sanctions.

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