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Erdogan Says Turkey ‘Will Never Declare A Ceasefire,’ Only End Offensive If Kurds Withdraw

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that the country will only end its offensive in northern Syria if Kurdish fighters withdraw, Reuters reported.

Vice President Mike Pence is set to visit Anarka on Wednesday to “voice the United States’ commitment to reach an immediate ceasefire and the conditions for a negotiated settlement,” a Tuesday press release from the Office of the Vice President reads.

Erdogan’s comments came a day after he told reporters on a Tuesday flight back from Baku, Azerbaijan, that Turkey “will never declare a ceasefire” in northern Syria, according to Reuters.

President Donald Trump announced economic sanctions against the country that will include a 50% tariff on steel and the termination of a $100 billion trade deal between the two countries in an effort to increase pressure on Turkey to commit to a ceasefire, the president said in a statement.

“They say ‘declare a ceasefire’. We will never declare a ceasefire,” Erdogan told reporters on Tuesday. “They are pressuring us to stop the operation. They are announcing sanctions. Our goal is clear. We are not worried about any sanctions.”

“The regime entering Manbij is not very negative for me. Why? It’s their lands after all. But, what is important to me is that the terrorist organization does not remain there,” Erdogan told reporters in reference to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

“I told this to Mr. Putin, as well. If you are clearing Manbij of terrorist organizations, then go ahead, you or the regime can provide all the logistics. But if you are not going to do this, the people there are telling us to save them,” he concluded.

Trump said in an Oct. 6 statement that the White House “does not endorse” Turkey’s offensive called “Operation Peace Spring” in northern Syria against U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters. The offensive began after the White House announced that it was pulling the remaining 50 U.S. soldiers from the region.

Turkish officials said four Turkish fighters, 16 Syrian-allied fighters and 440 Kurdish fighters have died since Erdogan launched “Operation Peace Spring” on Oct. 9. The Syrian Defense Force said 56 of its fighters have died, Time magazine reported on Monday.

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