The agreement reached between Turkey and the United States on suspending Turkey’s Peace Spring operation cannot be considered a ceasefire with the Kurdish formations, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters at a press briefing in Ankara.
"We are suspending Operation Peace Spring for 120 hours in order for the Kurdistan Workers' Party and the National Defense Forces (NDF) to withdraw [from the planned security zone]. This is not a ceasefire," TASS quoted Cavusoglu as saying.
The Turkish top diplomat also said that Ankara and Washington "agreed that the NDF would hand over heavy weaponry and destroy their fortifications." "However, this does not mean that our military will leave the [combat zone]. We will remain there," the minister added.
Cavusoglu did not rule out that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan might still visit the US. "We assume that [US President Donald] Trump’s invitation to visit Washington is still open. I hope that our expectations are met and we will be able to organize the visit," he stressed.
Situation in Manbij
"There are forces of the regime [of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] present in several regions, including Manbij. Yesterday, units of the regime and Russia entered Kobani. We will discuss these regions with Russia. We will raise these issues during [the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan] to Russia on the 22nd [of Octoberr]," Cavusoglu said.
According to the Turkish foreign minister, Ankara did not give any promises to Washington during Thursday’s talks regarding Kobani. "As [US Vice President Mike] Pence said, we did not say that we would not enter [any region]. We did not promise that we would not enter Kobani or any other place," the minister said.
Earlier on Thursday, the Al Watan daily informed that units of the Syrian army had approached the Turkish border in the area of Souq al-Hal to the north of Kobani.
On Wednesday, the Kremlin confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are set to meet in Sochi on October 22. On October 15, Putin and Erdogan held a phone call, during which Putin "urged his Turkish partners to carefully consider the situation so as not to damage the overall efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis," the Kremlin reported.
Turkey's military operation in Syria
On October 9, Ankara announced the launch of Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria, which began with airstrikes on Kurdish positions. The operation’s goal is to create a buffer zone along the Turkish border, where, according to Ankara, Syrian refugees residing in Turkey could return. SANA (Syrian Arab News Agency) slammed the operation as aggression. The international community condemned Ankara’s actions. On October 13, SANA reported that Damascus had sent troops to northern Syria to counter the Turkish army.