Turkey has yet to confirm the truce after launching an offensive against the “Islamic State” and Kurdish forces in northern Syria. But Kurdish-backed militas said they would continue to negotiate with Turkish forces.
US Central Command spokesman Colonel John Thomas on Tuesday said Kurdish-backed militias agreed to stop fighting Turkish forces after Ankara launched an incursion into northern Syria last week.
“In the last several hours, we have received assurance that all parties involved are going to stop shooting at each other and focus on the ISIL threat,” said Thomas, referring to the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) militant group by an alternative acronym.
“It’s a loose agreement for at least the next couple of days, and we are hoping that will solidify,” the US defense official added.
Turkey neither confirmed nor denied that a ceasefire had been reached. Ankara launched a large-scale military operation last week, saying its incursion into northern Syria aimed to uproot IS as well as Kurdish forces.
The Kurds have carved out a semi-autonomous region in northern Syria with the help of the US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG), a key partner in the international fight against IS.
However, Turkey fears that the emergence of an autonomous Kurdish region in conflict-hit Syria could bolster rebel forces at home, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which it considers a terrorist group.
‘Through the Americans’
The UK-backed Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which uses a nationwide network of on-the-ground sources to monitor the conflict in Syria, observed calm on the southern front of Jarablus, where Turkish forces drove out IS militants.
The Kurdish-backed Jarablus Military Council said it would continue to communicate with Turkish forces through American back channels in order to maintain the ceasefire.
“We are continuing to negotiate (with Turkey) through the Americans,” council spokesman Ali Hajo told AFP news agency.
ls/gsw (AFP, dpa)