The latest on what's happening in Syria

By Fernando Alfonso III. CNN

Updated 3:50 p.m. ET, October 19, 2019
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3:29 p.m. ET, October 19, 2019

Leader of Kurdish forces in Syria may travel to Washington, D.C.

From CNN's Kevin Bohn

There are discussions going on between Gen. Mazloum Abdi, the commander in chief of the Kurdish forces in Syria called the Syrian Democratic Forces, and officials outside the Trump Administration about him coming to Washington, D.C. soon, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.

No trip is definitively set as of this time, the source said. The source would not detail what Abdi may do if he does come to the Capitol.

2:47 p.m. ET, October 19, 2019

Turkey denies allegations of blocking withdrawals

From CNN's Gul Tuysuz

A senior Turkish official tells CNN that Turkey is “100% behind” the US-brokered agreement for a pause in hostilities in northern Syria, adding it was “bizarre to think that we’d violate an agreement that we like”.

The official was responding to allegations that Turkey or the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army were blocking the withdrawal of Syrian-Kurdish fighters – who he called “PKK terrorists” - from areas in northern Syria in which Turkey seeks to carve out a “safe zone."

The senior official said the allegations were simply “false information” being spread by “YPG terrorists” who “are giving President Trump the middle finger."

“We are on the same page with the United States. The Turkish military provided detailed information, including coordinates, with the United States to facilitate the YPG’s withdrawal”, he said.
1:11 p.m. ET, October 19, 2019

Dozens of injured people have been evacuated from the besieged town of Ras al-Ain

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq, Jomana Karadsheh and Kareem Khadder 

Dozens of injured people have been evacuated by a humanitarian convoy after it was granted permission to enter the Syrian besieged town of Ras al-Ain in northeastern the country, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) media office said this afternoon.

The Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), that controls most of the town, granted permission to a humanitarian convoy consisting of Kurdish Red Crescent, Syrian Arab Red Crescent, and International Red Cross crews after being prevented by FSA since Thursday, SDF said.

A humanitarian worker, David Eubanks, with the Free Burma Rangers, speaking with CNN from northeastern Syria said they were also allowed to enter the town and were able to evacuate 37 injured people. 

Some more background: US Vice President Mike Pence's announcement said Thursday that he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had brokered a five-day ceasefire there.

However, the Syrian Kurds (SDF) accused Turkey Saturday of continuing to violate the US-brokered ceasefire in northern Syria and urged the Trump administration to force the creation of a humanitarian corridor, according to a statement released by SDF Saturday.

Turkey Saturday accused the SDF of fourteen harassment attacks since the ceasefire began Thursday night.

12:20 p.m. ET, October 19, 2019

US official: Turkish-backed forces broke ceasefire Friday 

From CNN's Nick Paton Walsh

Turkish-backed forces broke the ceasefire on Friday morning, the first day, said a US official.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stopped operations but were attacked, they said, adding they were unaware of any airstrikes.

The official added the Turkish-backed forces were either acting outside of Turkish control or Turkey “didn’t care what they did."

12:12 p.m. ET, October 19, 2019

The “ceasefire is not holding” in Syria according to US officials

From CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh

Two US officials with a grasp of events on the ground told CNN today the ceasefire between Syria and Turkey "is not holding."

It was unclear whose battlefield actions were behind this assessment but both the Syrian Kurds and the Turkish-backed forces have accused each other of violations.

More on the ceasefire: The Turkish government has insisted that the agreement is not a ceasefire, but only a "pause" on operations in the region, reflecting Ankara's views of the status of the Syrian Kurds.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey's offensive would resume if the US does not deliver on their guarantee to get Syrian Kurdish fighters out of the safe zone area by Tuesday night.

"If America can keep its promise at the end of the 120 hours, the issue of a safe zone will be resolved," Erdogan said. "But if this promise is not fulfilled, we will continue with the operation with greater resolve than where we left off, the minute after 120 hours has ended."

12:01 p.m. ET, October 19, 2019

Kurds say Turkey is violating hours-old 'ceasefire' in northern Syria

From CNN's Kareem Khadder, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Eliza Mackintosh

Clashes continued on the border between Turkey and Syria on Friday, according to eyewitnesses and Kurdish fighters, despite US Vice President Mike Pence's announcement that he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had brokered a five-day ceasefire there.

Shelling and artillery fire was reported Friday in the border town of Ras al-Ain, one of the targets of Turkey's week-old offensive against Kurdish fighters, who have long been backed by the United States.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) told CNN that shelling by the Turkish military and the Syrian rebel proxies supporting them has hit a number of civilian areas in Ras al-Ain, including a hospital. The SDF says five fighters were killed in the attack.

"SDF are committed to the ceasefire, but from last night until this morning we are seeing shelling on Ras al-Ain by the Turkish military and its mercenaries on SDF and civilian Kurdish targets, and in particular on the Ras al-Ain hospital in the city this morning," SDF Press Commander Merivan Qamishlo said.