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Iran Press TV

UN chief welcomes Turkey pause in Syria assault

Iran Press TV

Thu Oct 17, 2019 09:06PM

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has welcomed "any efforts" to de-escalate the situation in northern Syria and protect civilians, a UN spokesman said in a statement on Thursday after Turkey agreed to pause its military operation in the region.

"The secretary general recognizes that there is still a long way to go for an effective solution to the crisis in Syria," UN spokesman Farhan Haq said in a statement on Thursday

Turkey agreed to pause its offensive for five days to let Kurdish forces withdraw from a "safe zone" Ankara had sought to capture, in a deal hailed by the administration of US President Donald Trump and cast by Turkey as a complete victory.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said Thursday they are willing to abide by the ceasefire announced by Washington and Turkey, after nine days of fighting along Syria's northern border.

"We are ready to abide by the ceasefire" covering the area from Ras al-Ain to Tal Abyad, SDF chief Mazlum Abdi told a Kurdish TV station.

"We have not discussed the fate of other areas," he said in Kurdish, referring to parts of the northeast where Turkey wants to create what it calls a "safe zone".

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said clashes in Ras al-Ain continued despite news of the agreement.

Since Turkey launched its invasion of northeastern Syria earlier this month, hundreds of Kurdish militants have been killed and 300,000 people have been displaced, according to the Turkish government and figures released by the UN.

Abdi urged Washington to guarantee the return of the displaced and ensure the region does not undergo a "demographic change."

Turkey wants to create a buffer zone 30 kilometers (20 miles) deep on the Syrian side of the border, to keep Kurdish militias at bay and resettle some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees living on Turkish soil.

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