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SDF Official Confirms Brief Ceasefire between Turkey, Kurdish-Backed Fighters in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters walk on the rubble of damaged shops and buildings in the city of Manbij, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria, August 10, 2016. REUTERS/Rodi Said

An armistice between Turkey and the Kurdish-backed Jarablus Military Council is put in order, a Kurdish military official at an SDF-allied group said on Tuesday.

The Jarablus Military Council is a group aligned with U.S.-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The truce deal has been put in force since midnight on Monday and is holding, said Sharfan Darwish, spokesman for the SDF-allied Manbij Military Council.

However, a commander in one of the Turkey-supported Syrian opposition groups that have clashed with SDF-allied groups south of Jarablus said there was no ceasefire, but that there was a pause in the military operation.

“There is no truce and no ceasefire. But there has been a pause for some time,” he said, adding that the operation would resume shortly.

Alternatively, Turkey’s army chief signaled no letup in the launched Syria offensive despite that Washington has criticized the targeting of U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters.

Turkish-backed forces began the offensive last week by capturing the Syrian frontier town of Jarablus from ISIS militants; they then advanced on areas controlled by Kurdish-aligned militias which have U.S. support in battling the hardline militants.

Turkey, which is already fighting a pushing Kurdish insurgency at home, openly said the operation dubbed “Euphrates Shield” has a dual goal of driving away ISIS and preventing Kurdish forces extending their areas of control along the Turkish border.

Washington said the offensive by its NATO ally risked undermining the fight against ISIS because it was focusing on Kurdish-aligned militias. Ankara says it will not take orders from anyone on how to protect the nation.

“By pursuing the Euphrates Shield operation, which is crucial for our national security and for our neighbours’ security, the Turkish Armed Forces are showing they have lost none of their strength,” Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar said in a statement on Tuesday to mark a national holiday.

On the eve of the Victory Day holiday, President Tayyip Erdogan said the operation would continue until all threats, including that of Kurdish militia fighters, were removed from the border area.