Mazloum Abdi, the commander of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG)-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), announced on Thursday, October 17, that his forces will observe a ceasefire established by the US and Turkey. According to Abdi, the ceasefire will be recognized along a 100 km (62 mi) area between Tel Abyad and Ras Al-Ain. However, he did not confirm that SDF personnel will withdraw from other parts of Syria, including a 32 km (20 mi)-wide "safe zone" along Syria's northeastern border with Turkey. The situation remains fluid and further fighting between Turkish and SDF forces are possible if the tentative agreement breaks down.
Earlier on Thursday, Turkey announced it would suspend military operations in northeastern Syria following diplomatic talks between US Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Under the agreement, a temporarily five-day ceasefire will allow the YPG to withdraw from the “safe zone,” after which Turkey’s military operation "will be halted entirely." As of Thursday, the military offensive has resulted in the deaths of at least 224 SDF fighters and 183 Turkish-backed fighters; 72 civilians have been killed since the start of the offensive and 300,000 more have been displaced.
A heightened security presence is to be expected in northeastern Syria over the near term. Further unrest, including violent clashes between opposing security forces, are possible in the region over the coming days and weeks.
On October 14, an agreement was reached between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Syrian government for Syrian government forces to deploy along the border with Turkey amid an ongoing Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria.
President Erdoğan announced on October 5 that Turkey would launch a military operation in northeastern Syria in an attempt to expel Kurdish (YPG) forces from the Syrian-Turkish border. Erdoğan stated that the air and ground operations would extend 30 km (19 mi) into Syria from Syria's northeastern border with Turkey. Turkey considers the YPG to be a terrorist organization linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) group in Turkey.
The offensive comes days after US President Donald Trump announced a US military pullback in the region.
Due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some banning travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to Syria.
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