Turkish Ceasefire Violations in Northern Syria

Submitted by Elisa Cherry on Mon, 10/21/2019 - 14:37


Following a week of malicious fighting in northern Syria, where Turkish forces entered to defeat the terrorism and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the region after the withdrawal of US troops, a rocky ceasefire has been proposed and breached by the Turkish government. This ceasefire announcement followed the days of airstrikes, carried out by Turkish military forces, demonstrates a clear violation of international humanitarian law and there are cases of potential war crimes.[1] On the 16th of October, United States President Donald Trump sent his Vice President, Mike Pence, and Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo to negotiate a deal in Turkey.[2]

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The initial agreement promised a five-day ceasefire, which was originally established under the notion that Kurdish-led SDF would use this five days to withdraw from the “safe zones”, or the area that Turkey has claimed as a resettlement area for Syrians living inside the Turkish borders.[3]  It should be noted that the Turkish government has not addressed the agreement with the United States government as a ceasefire, but rather a pause in the fighting to allow Kurdish militias to leave the area.[4]


The ceasefire held for less than a day, before gunfire and shelling were heard outside the town of Ras al Ain, near the Turkish-Syria border.[5] The Kurds have blamed Turkey for breaking the ceasefire.[6] This agreement is only between the Turkish and United States government, and beyond the current violations of the ceasefire, the other parties to the conflict, namely the Syrian regime, the SDF and Russian military allies are not party to the agreement.[7] With no stable agreement in place, fighting is likely to continue in the coming days, which could result in greater casualties, more war crimes and human rights violations. All the while, the civilians of Syria continue to play victim to an international quarrel between the United States, Turkey, the Kurds and the Syrian regime.