10/18/2019 Syria (International Christian Concern) – Hailed by Trump and his administration as a resounding diplomatic victory, a 120-hour ceasefire has been announced between Turkey and Kurdish-aligned Syrian forces. The ceasefire comes after Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo sat down with President Erdogan of Turkey yesterday, asking that Turkey cease its military operation against the Syrian Kurds. “The Kurds are very happy. Turkey is very happy.” President Trump said after the agreement was announced. “It’s a great thing for civilization.”
The ceasefire temporarily pauses a week-long Turkish military operation in northern Syria targeting the Kurds in what is part of a larger effort by Turkey to eradicate ethnic and religious minorities in the Middle East. In addition to the fact that the ceasefire is temporary, it is also contingent on the Kurds—an ethnic group considered by Turkey to be terrorists—completely surrendering a swath of land extending about 20 miles south of the Turkish border, dismantling their fortifications, and surrendering their heavy weaponry.
These demands on the Kurdish forces come even as Turkey is reported to be continuing its military campaign, attacking both Kurdish and private American humanitarian convoys attempting to bring medical care to the border town of Ras al-Ayn. News of these attacks continue despite the ceasefire announcement, and are accompanied by reports of children along the border suffering from severe chemical burns. Photos of these burn victims have been confirmed by a senior U.S. official and suggest that proxy terrorist organizations aligned with Turkey are now beginning to deploy chemical weapons against Syrian civilians. If these terrorist organizations do, in fact, have access to chemical weapons there could be severe implications for the Kurds in Syria.
The Trump Administration promises to lift its recent sanctions against Turkey if the conditions of the agreement negotiated between Pence and Erdogan are, in the opinion of the Administration, observed. What that agreement looks like remains to be seen, as the Kurds signal dissatisfaction with the deal and Turkey continues its military operations in Syria.
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