Syria

Fighting In Syria Continues Despite Ceasefire

Smoke still rises in key border town after five-day halt agreed.

Fighting has continued in a Syrian border town at the centre of the battle between Turkey and Kurdish forces, despite a US-brokered ceasefire.

Shelling and smoke could be seen around Ras al-Ayn, hours after the US announced a five-day break in Turkey's offensive had been agreed.

While Turkey’s President Erdoğan denies any fighting has continued, there are reports of more deaths and civilian injuries.

There are suggestions talks on Turkey’s potential EU membership could be suspended.

As evidence of the conflict persisting elsewhere in Syria seemed slim, clashes in Ras al-Ayn were reported by The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Turkey claimed to have taken "control" of Ras al-Ayn last week. 

Turkey had agreed to a five-day halt to the week-long offensive following talks with the US.

The agreement required the Kurds to vacate the territory along the border that has been the focus of the fighting.

After negotiations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, US Vice President Mike Pence hailed the ceasefire deal as a "peaceful resolution" in the north-east of Syria.

Turkey had rejected previous ceasefire calls.

The US-brokered the ceasefire after leaving behind the Kurdish forces in the region who fought alongside them against the Islamic State group (IS). 

Speaking at a Dallas rally, President Donald Trump compared Turkey's cross-border offensive on the Kurds to "two kids in a lot," saying "you have to let them fight, and then you pull them apart".

Mike Pence US Department of Defense
US Vice President Mike Pence met with the leader of Turkey to agree on the deal (Picture: US Department of Defense).

US Special Envoy to Syria, James Jeffrey, told journalists the agreement only permits military force in self-defence and was prompted by the perceived inevitability of a Turkish victory.

"It is our assessment that they have no military ability to hold onto these areas and therefore we thought that a ceasefire would be much better... for trying to get some kind of control over this chaotic situation", he said.

The deal also includes a conditional halt to American economic sanctions on Turkey, which Mr Trump imposed alongside original appeals for a ceasefire.

The ceasefire follows an overwhelming defeat for US President Donald Trump in the US House of Representatives, who voted 354-60 to oppose the withdrawal.

Kurdish fighters, however, say the deal the US has brokered will never work.