Smoke rises from the Syrian city of Ras al Ain following an attack from Turkey 101019 CREDIT PA
Syria

Syria: Kurdish Forces Evacuate Contested Border Town During Ceasefire

Ras al-Ain is part of Turkish plans to develop a Kurdish-free "safe-zone" in Syria.

Smoke rises from the Syrian city of Ras al Ain following an attack from Turkey 101019 CREDIT PA

Smoke rises from Ras al-Ain following Turkey's invasion on 9 October (Picture: PA).

Kurdish forces under attack from Turkey in Syria have begun withdrawing from the border town of Ras al-Ain, as part of a five-day ceasefire arrangement brokered by the United States.

US Vice President Mike Pence agreed on the deal with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last Thurday evening, detailing a 120-hour halt to Turkish attacks if the Kurds pull back from hostile areas in norther Syria.

Turkey is attempting to establish a 20-mile-deep "safe-zone" along the border, free of Kurdish fighters, who it considers terrorists.

Under the temporary pause in fighting, the Kurds are now leaving the areas they have been defending for almost two weeks.

Turkish forces have focused much of the cross-border offensive on Ras al-Ain, since commencing the invasion into northern Syria on 9th October after the controversial withdrawal of US troops from the region.

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has confirmed that all troops leaving northern Syria will be relocated to western Iraq to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State group (IS).

The US fought against IS alongside the Kurds in Syria, before leaving them behind there.

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).

The pullout from the Kurds must take place before Tuesday evening - when the temporary ceasefire is set to end.

The Turkish President has warned the assault will officially resume on Tuesday if the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are still present in the area.

Kurdish forces are not required to evacuate the entire north-east border demanded by Turkey for the so-called "safe-zone".

The UN is investigating allegations Turkey has used chemical weapons against civilians in Syria, civilians among those pulling out of Ras al-Ain.

Sporadic fighting continued around the heavily contested border town of Ras al-Ain, shortly after a deal was struck between the US and Turkey.

Officials from both Turkey and the Kurdish-led SDF have stated that fighters have been killed during breaches of the 120-hour ceasefire.

A senior official in the Kurdish-led forces, Redur Khalil, said that after the Ras al-Ayn evacuation, the forces will withdraw from a zone about 75 miles wide and 20 miles deep between Ras al-Ain and the town of Tal Abyad further west.