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Turkey Denies Truce Deal With Kurdish Militia Fighters In Northern Syria

August 31, 2016

Ankara is denying reports of a truce agreement with Kurdish militia fighters in northern Syria.

Omer Celik, Turkey's minister for European Union affairs, said on August 31 that Ankara does "not accept in any circumstances…a 'compromise or a cease-fire reached between Turkey and Kurdish elements'."

Meanwhile, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin reiterated Ankara's threat to target any Kurdish militia fighters in northern Syria to the west of the Euphrates River -- including Kurdish fighters in the city of Manbij.

Kalin said Ankara's priority is to clear Islamic State (IS) militants out of a 90-kilometer swath of territory in northern Syria adjacent to Turkey's southern border.

But Turkey also has been attacking U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters since it launched an incursion into northern Syria on August 23.

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said on August 30 that fighting between Turkish forces and U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters in Syria had paused for 12 to 18 hours.

Kirby said Washington wants the pause to continue so all members of a U.S.-led coalition can focus on defeating Islamic State militants.

A U.S. Central Command spokesman, Colonel John Thomas, said on August 30 that the U.S. military "received assurance that all parties involved are going to stop shooting at each other and focus" on IS.

Thomas described the pause as a "loose agreement for at least the next couple of days."

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and Anadolu

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/united- states-turkey-syria-kurdish-forces-syria- fighting-pause/27956615.html

Copyright (c) 2016. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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