Following diplomatic talks between US Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday, October 17, Turkey agreed to suspend military operations in northeastern Syria. The temporary ceasefire will reportedly last five days, allowing Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) forces to withdraw from the 32 km (20 mi)-wide "safe zone" along Syria's northeastern border with Turkey. According to Vice President Pence, upon withdrawal of the Kurdish forces from this area the Turkish military operation "will be halted entirely." As of Thursday, the military offensive has resulted in the death of at least 224 Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (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. Unconfirmed, local reports claim Kurdish officials have rejected terms of the ceasefire reached between the US and Turkey; further details are still emerging.
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.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on October 5 that Turkey would launch a military operation in northeastern Syria in an attempt to expel Kurdish (People's Protection Units; 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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