Sat, Oct 19, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Trump hails Syria ceasefire, although fighting continued

AFP, DALLAS

US President Donald Trump waves at a rally in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday.

Photo: Bloomberg

US President Donald Trump on Thursday welcomed a temporary ceasefire in northern Syria and said he allowed Turkish and Kurdish forces to clash because they were like children who needed to fight each other, although gunfire was later reported in a border town.

“It was unconventional what I did. I said they’re going to have to fight a little while,” Trump told a rally in Dallas, Texas. “Like two kids in a lot, you have got to let them fight and then you pull them apart.”

“They fought for a few days and it was pretty vicious,” he said.

Trump withdrew US troops from northeast Syria ahead of a week-long Turkish offensive against the Kurds.

More than 500 people have been killed, including dozens of civilians, mostly on the Kurdish side, and 300,000 civilians have been displaced within Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.

Earlier, Trump hailed the announcement that Turkey had agreed to suspend its offensive, calling it a “great day” for the Turks and the Kurds.

“We have a five-day ceasefire,” Trump told reporters, after US Vice President Mike Pence said that Ankara had agreed to suspend its military operation and end it entirely once Kurdish fighters withdraw from a safe zone along the Turkey-Syria border.

“It’s a great day for the United States,” Trump said in Fort Worth, Texas, ahead of a re-election rally. “It’s a great day for Turkey. It’s a great day for the Kurds. It’s a great day for civilization.”

“This is a situation where everybody’s happy,” he said.

Trump said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had done the right thing and it would no longer be necessary to impose US sanctions on Turkey.

However, shelling and gunfire was reported in the northeast Syrian town of Ras al-Ain yesterday.

Machine-gun fire and shelling could be heard from the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar across the border from Ras al Ain, and smoke rose from one part of the Syrian town.

The truce was announced about 13 hours earlier by Pence after talks in Ankara with Erdogan.

In Prague, Czech President Milos Zeman accused fellow NATO member Turkey of teaming up with terrorists during its offensive in northeastern Syria and of committing war crimes.

“President Erdogan calls the Kurds terrorists, but I strongly disagree,” he said on Thursday on a talk show on the private Czech Barrandov television station.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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