The Latest: US, Turkey agree to cease-fire in Syria

Posted at 7:59 PM, Oct 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-17 21:59:16-04

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):

4:50 a.m. Friday

The U.S. and Turkey have agreed to a cease-fire in the Turks' deadly attacks on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, requiring the Kurds to vacate the area in an arrangement that largely solidifies Turkey's position and aims in the weeklong conflict.

The deal includes a conditional halt to American economic sanctions.

After negotiations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is hailing the five-day cease-fire as the way to end the bloodshed caused by Turkey's invasion.

Pence remains silent on whether the agreement amounts to a second abandonment of America's former Kurdish allies in the fight against the Islamic State group.


1:30 a.m.

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney says President Donald Trump's decision to abandon Kurdish allies in Syria "will stand as a bloodstain in the annals of American history."

The Utah senator took to the Senate floor Thursday to criticize Trump anew over his withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria.

That pullback resulted in Turkey's invasion of the area so it could attack Syrian Kurds, a pivotal U.S. ally against Islamic State fighters.

Romney says removing U.S. troops who protected the Kurds "violates one of our most sacred duties. It strikes at American honor."

Romney says he hopes a five-day cease-fire announced Thursday works. But he says a deal with Turkey should have been struck before the U.S. pulled its troops out, not afterward.


1 a.m.

Congress' two top Democrats are bashing the five-day ceasefire in Syria that the U.S. has brokered with Turkey.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer say the agreement is a "sham" that shows President Donald Trump is "flailing."

The Democrats say Turkey has surrendered nothing while Trump has given Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "everything."

They say the deal damages American credibility and leaves thousands of Islamic State prisoners in the hands of Turkey and Syria's government. They say that represents a security threat to the U.S.

Pelosi and Schumer say the U.S. and its allies "deserve smart, strong and sane leadership from Washington."

Turkey invaded northern Syria last week and has been attacking Syrian Kurds, a key U.S. ally against the Islamic State.


9:30 p.m. Thursday

President Donald Trump is crediting his threat of sanctions on Turkey as "tough love" that led the country to agree to a five-day cease-fire in its battle with Kurds in northern Syria.

Talking to reporters in Fort Worth, Texas, on Thursday, Trump said the Kurds are happy with the deal.

But the president's critics say he put the Kurdish forces in danger by announcing a U.S. troop withdrawal.

They say the deal, announced in Turkey by Vice President Mike Pence, essentially gives Turkey what it wanted to achieve from its incursion into Syria in the first place. After the Kurds move from the area, Turkey has committed to a permanent cease-fire but is under no obligation to withdraw its troops.

Trump says he's open to hosting the Turkish leader in Washington.


8:50 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says that Turkey has agreed to a cease-fire in Syria.

Pence spoke after a high-level delegation of U.S. officials met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (REH'-jehp TY'-ihp UR'-doh-wahn) in Ankara, Turkey.

Pence says there will "a pause in military operations for 120 hours" to allow the U.S.-allied Syrian Kurds to withdraw.

The vice president says the U.S. and Turkey have "mutually committed to peaceful resolution and future for the safe zone."


8:25 p.m.

The Senate's top Democrat is pushing for quick approval of a resolution opposing President Donald Trump's troop withdrawal from Syria, but a Republican is blocking the move.

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer says the most important step lawmakers can take is to send Trump a message that Congress is rejecting his foreign policy approach.

The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed the resolution, which pushes the administration to put forward a Syria plan. Lawmakers are outraged over the withdrawal that's paved the way for a Turkish attack on Syrian Kurds, U.S. allies in the long-running war.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calls Trump's action a "mistake" and he's fast-tracked the resolution for consideration.

Schumer was trying to approve the measure immediately. But Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky objected.


7:40 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (REH'-jehp TY'-ihp UR'-doh-wahn) stretched to more than four hours Thursday, as he pressed the NATO ally to agree to a cease-fire in Northern Syria.

Pence's office said talks between the U.S. and Turkish delegations were continuing inside Turkey's presidency complex more than two hours past their scheduled conclusion. It was not immediately clear if there was any movement toward a cease-fire or other developments from the discussions.

Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House are to hold a press conference when the meetings wrap up.


3:56 p.m.

A senior U.S. delegation arrived Thursday for meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (REH'-jehp TY'-ihp UR'-doh-wahn) on an improbable mission to push for a cease-fire in Northern Syria.

Armored SUVs carrying Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien entered the vast Turkish presidency complex in Ankara to meet with Erdogan.

The White House says Pence was greeted by his Turkish counterpart before entering a one-on-one meeting with Erdogan. U.S. special envoy for Syria Amb. James Jeffrey served as the American translator. A second meeting with the full delegations was to take place later Thursday afternoon.

The U.S. officials are expected to warn Erdogan that he will face additional economic sanctions if he doesn't halt his assault on Kurdish forces once allied with the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State group.


1:20 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (pahm-PAY'-oh) have arrived in Turkey to mount an improbable push for a cease-fire in Syria.

Their visit to Ankara on Thursday to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (REH'-jehp TY'-ihp UR'-doh-wahn) comes a day after President Donald Trump suggested the U.S. has no stake in defending Kurdish fighters once allied against the Islamic State group.

The high-level U.S. delegation is to warn Erdogan that Washington will escalate economic sanctions if his assault on Kurdish fighters continues. But the Turkish leader has said he would only agree to a cease-fire if Kurdish forces abandon key positions in Syria.

U.S. officials acknowledge the odds are slim for an immediate halt to the weeklong conflict. The visit comes as Trump faces bipartisan condemnation in Washington for withdrawing American troops from northern Syria, which paved the way for the Turkish incursion.


8:55 a.m.

A senior U.S. delegation on its way to Turkey is facing a herculean task — to pressure Turkish officials to accept a cease-fire in Northern Syria just hours after President Donald Trump declared the U.S. has no stake in defending its Kurdish allies.

Vice President Mike Pence is heading a U.S. delegation that includes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien. They are set to arrive in Turkey Thursday afternoon, a day after Trump dismissed the very crisis he sent his aides on an emergency mission to douse.

Trump suggested Wednesday that a Kurdish group was a greater terror threat than Islamic State militants. He also welcomed the efforts of Russia and the Assad government to fill the void left by the U.S. withdrawal.