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Turkey, Kurdish forces accuse each other of violating ceasefire

Stoyan Nenov, REUTERS | Smoke rises from a building near the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, Turkey, October 18, 2019.

Turkey on Saturday accused Kurdish forces of violating a US-brokered ceasefire deal in northeast Syria. But the Kurds say it is Turkey who is failing to abide by its terms, refusing to lift a siege it imposed on the border town of Ras al-Ain 30 hours after the truce went into effect.

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Turkey on Saturday accused Kurdish forces of violating an agreement to suspend its Syria offensive if they withdraw from a "safe zone" along the border.

"The Turkish armed forces fully abide by the agreement" reached on Thursday with the United States, the defence ministry said in a statement. "Despite this, terrorists... carried out a total of 14 attacks in the last 36 hours."

The ministry said 12 of the attacks came from the border town of Ras al-Ain in northeastern Syria, one from Tal Abyad and another from Tal Tamr region, adding that various light and heavy weaponry including rockets were used.

Turkey had agreed to suspend its Syria offensive for five days but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Friday he would resume a full-scale operation against Kurdish forces if they do not withdraw from a border "safe zone."

"If the promises are kept until Tuesday evening, the safe zone issue will be resolved. If it fails, the operation... will start the minute 120 hours are over," Erdogan said.

But he added the agreement was holding and that had been no issues so far.

The defence ministry said "for the agreement to hold soundly and to keep the calm with exception of self-defence", Turkey was coordinating with the United States.

On Saturday, calm appeared to be prevailing in Ras al-Ain with no signs of fighting, according to AFP journalists on the Turkish side of the border.

(AFP)

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