In Putin call, French president urges ceasefire extension in Syria

Tuesday, 22 Oct, 2019

Sergey Lavrov's comments on Monday came a day before Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan are to meet in Russia.

The stakes couldn't be higher.

However, the Syrian Kurdish groups were a key US ally in the fight against the Islamic State group. We have only agreed to the cease-fire. A spokesperson for the Turkish government said the fighters are hampering their efforts and claimed the Kurdish forces are violating the ceasefire.

Critics called Trump's decision a "betrayal" of USA -allied Kurds, and many expressed concerns that the thousands of IS prisoners being held by the Kurdish militias would be able to flee during the fighting.

The SDF and Damascus struck a deal this month to counter the Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria, prompting Syrian army forces to deploy in Manbij and Kobani, towns of strategic importance given their location on the Syrian border with Turkey.

Even as American forces make a hasty and chaotic withdrawal from northeastern Syria, the U.S.is considering leaving some troops behind to secure oil fields in the region and make sure they don't fall into the hands of a resurgent Islamic State, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday. He explained in a written conversation that "many of the (Kurdish YPG) fighters have families that live in (the referred to) territories", which will challenge the Turkish demand of a comprehensive Kurdish withdrawal.

Iran has rejected the establishment of Turkish military posts inside of Syria saying borders between the two countries should be respected.

Turkey is now conducting an anti-terror operation in northeastern Syria for security interests, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, quoted by BGNES.

Since much of the border area is predominantly Kurdish, this has raised concerns of an attempt to alter the region's demographics.

The SDF was the US's main ground ally in the years-long campaign against the Islamic State.

Al Jazeera's Sinem Koseolgu joins us from Isbanbul.

But there's an added complication.

Footage of a Turkey-backed militia threatening to execute any Kurds they find in Northern Syria has emerged, as both sides accused each other of breaking a ceasefire agreement negotiated by the United States.

Sporadic clashes between the SDF and Turkish forces and their proxies in recent days in Ras al-Ain, on the border with Turkey, threatened to undo the fragile agreement. There aren't any prisons in areas that Turkish forces recently have occupied.

Turkey says it wants free elections in Syria overseen by the United Nations, and would work with whoever won power in a fair vote.

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Erdogan's spokesperson, Kalin, confirmed that is the area affected by the pause in fighting, but said Turkey still wants the larger zone. The White House said at the time that it would not "support or be involved in" Turkey's operation.

"The U.S. withdrawal continues apace from northeast Syria", he said.

On Friday, Assad received Putin's envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiyev.

Khalil called for an worldwide mechanism to protect Kurdish residents who want to stay in their towns after Kurdish-led fighters leave. "Now we need to make sure that the commitments that were made in that statement are honored", Pompeo said.

It sounds like the Kurds won't let their hard feelings about the American pullout in the north stop them from continuing to partner with American troops in the east.

At one more region, shut to the metropolis of Tal Tamr, a group of protesters raised banners to departing U.S. troops leisurely Sunday, in step with an Connected Press video.

But the Kurds say it is Turkey who is failing to abide by its terms, refusing to lift a siege it imposed on the border town of Ras al-Ain 30 hours after the truce went into effect.

The Republican president declared this past week that Washington had no stake in defending the Kurdish fighters who died by the thousands as America's partners fighting in Syria against IS extremists.

"If they don't withdraw, our operation will restart", Cavusoglu said.