US says Turkey agrees to a ceasefire in Syria

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2:46 p.m. ET, October 17, 2019

Trump calls the ceasefire an "incredible outcome"

President Trump, speaking this afternoon from the tarmac at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Forth Worth, called the US-announced ceasefire in Turkey an "incredible outcome" that saved lives.

"When those guns start shooting, they tend to do things, but I will tell you, on behalf of the United States I want to thank Turkey, I want to thank all of the people that have gotten together and made this happen," Trump said. "I want to thank everybody. And the other thing I want to thank as a group, I want to thank the Kurds, because they were incredibly happy with this solution. This is a solution that really -- well it saved their lives, frankly. It saved their lives."

However, Turkish foreign minister said this is "not a ceasefire" but said they will "pause the operation" in Syria.

About the terms of the ceasefire: As part of that agreement, the US convinced the Syrian Kurds/SDF to dismantle their defensive fortifications and pull troops from the border to appease Turkey.

The US also conducted joint patrols and shared intelligence with the Turkish military as part of that arrangement. 

The Kurds complied with the request to pull back and dismantle their fortifications. Turkey opted to invade despite those efforts. 

Watch here:

2:31 p.m. ET, October 17, 2019

Turkish foreign minister: "This is not a ceasefire"

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the reached agreement between the US and Turkey to suspend military operations in Syria is not a ceasefire.

"This is not a ceasefire," Cavusoglu said during a televised news conference today.

“We will pause the operation for 120 hours in order for the terrorists to leave,” Cavusoglu said. "We will only stop the operation if our conditions are met.”

Cavusoglu said a “safe zone” would need to be established at roughly 20 miles east of the Euphrates river to the Iraqi border.

2:13 p.m. ET, October 17, 2019

Pence says Turkey raised Halkbank indictment after negotiations concluded

Vice President Mike Pence said the topic of Halkbank, the state-owned Turkish bank that was indicted Tuesday, came up during ceasefire talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“When we concluded the negotiations, the topic was raised,” Pence said during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey. “We informed them that this was a matter for the Southern District of New York.”

CNN reported this week that Erdogan had previously urged President Trump in a phone call to drop a potential DOJ indictment into the state-owned Turkish bank Halkbank. Trump told Erdogan he would have his people look into it.

The US indicted Halkbank on Tuesday on charges related to evading sanctions on Iran.

2:30 p.m. ET, October 17, 2019

Pence: The US will "continue to engage" in Syria, but "not militarily"

Vice President Mike Pence, speaking at a news conference on the ceasefire, said the United States will “continue to engage” in Syria, but “not militarily.”

“The President made it clear that we're not going to have military personnel on the ground, but the United States will continue to engage diplomatically, politically and, of course, in humanitarian aid and support to effect all of the people affected in this region,” Pence said. 

He said that the President had sent him to the region to “stop the violence.” 

“We've achieved that. We've also achieved and opportunity by working with YPG to move out of the area to create more peace and security and stability in that buffer zone, and we're going to be working very earnestly to accomplish that and believe that can be accomplished during the 120-hour period and after which they'll be a permanent cease-fire,” Pence said.

And while Pence said the US did not support the Turkish military offensive, Trump enabled the Turks to enter Syria Sunday when he ordered US troops in Northern Syria to pull out of the region. 

2:04 p.m. ET, October 17, 2019

This ceasefire is similar to a previous agreement

The proposed ceasefire announced today seems extremely similar to the previous "Security Mechanism" agreement with Turkey earlier this year.

Here's what you need to know about the earlier agreement: As part of that agreement, the US convinced the Syrian Kurds/SDF to dismantle their defensive fortifications and pull fighters troops from the border to appease Turkey. The US also conducted joint patrols and shared intelligence with the Turkish military as part of that arrangement. 

The Kurds complied with the request to pull back and dismantle their fortifications. Turkey opted to invade despite those efforts. 

Now that the US has pulled out of all locations in northern Syria lest Kobani, it will be nearly impossible for the US to monitor much less enforce a ceasefire. 

Asked about the prospects of a ceasefire given the fate of the now defunct security mechanism agreement, a senior US administration official said recently:

“We are very aware that the Turks entered into an agreement with us and they then decided that they would pull out of that agreement and we’re very concerned about that happening again." 
2:11 p.m. ET, October 17, 2019

"We got exactly what we wanted," senior Turkish official says

Turkey got “exactly what they wanted” out of the meeting with Vice President Mike Pence, a senior Turkish official told CNN today.

Pence just announced that the US and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had agreed to a ceasefire in the Turkish military offensive into Syria. Pence said the Turkish operation would end when the YPG forces complete the withdrawal.

The senior Turkish official told CNN the “terrorists” would withdraw from the “safe zone” within five days and that Turkey would enforce the area after that. He also told CNN the “military operation paid off."

Erdoğan is scheduled to meet with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, around the time the ceasefire would go into effect.

2:04 p.m. ET, October 17, 2019

Pompeo and Pence met with Erdogan today

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C-L) and Vice President Mike Pence (C-R), joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (4R), Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay (4L), Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (3L) and senior aides meet at the presidential complex in Ankara, Turkey, on Oct.17, 2019.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C-L) and Vice President Mike Pence (C-R), joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (4R), Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay (4L), Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (3L) and senior aides meet at the presidential complex in Ankara, Turkey, on Oct.17, 2019. SHAUN TANDON/POOL/AFP/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to address the situation in Syria.

The high-level US delegation included Pence, Pompeo and national security adviser Robert O'Brien.

It marked the first major meeting between the two countries since President Trump pulled US armed forces out of northern Syria. The pullback is widely seen as giving Erdogan room to act on his long-held goal of attacking the Kurds who fought for and with the US against ISIS.

Speaking of the reached agreement between the US and Turkey, Pence said, "We think this is an outcome that will greatly serve the interests the Kurdish population in Syria and greatly serve the interests of Turkey and create the kind of long-term buffer zone that will ensure peace and stability in the region. 

1:54 p.m. ET, October 17, 2019

US will not impose further sanctions on Turkey, Pence says

Vice President Mike Pence said at the news conference announcing a ceasefire in Syria that the United States will not impose further sanctions on Turkey as part of the agreement.

"Part of our understanding is that with the implementation of the ceasefire, the United States will not impose any further sanctions on Turkey," Pence said. "And once a permanent ceasefire is in effect, the President has agreed to withdraw the economic sanctions that were imposed this last Monday."

More background: On Monday, Trump said he was applying harsh new sanctions on certain Turkish officials. In a phone call with Turkish President President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Trump "could not have been more firm" in expressing his displeasure at the incursion, according to Pence, who updated reporters at the White House on Monday evening. 

1:51 p.m. ET, October 17, 2019

Pence: Trump is "very grateful" to Erdogan for ceasefire

Vice President Mike Pence said he spoke with President Trump and said he "knows President Trump is very grateful" to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for facilitating the ceasefire. 

Pence said the agreement would "pause" the Turkish advance into Syria to allow the withdrawal of [Kurdish] YPG forces. He said the Turkish operation would end when the YPG forces completed the withdrawal. 

There has been no public statement from YPG forces that have agreed to withdraw, although Pence said he had spoken with YPG leadership.