Syria: Kurds call for international monitoring of failing ceasefire

Kurdish officials said Turkey is not abiding by the US-brokered ceasefire in northern Syria and called for international monitors to step in to guarantee the truce.

Turkish forces and their allied Syrian militias “targeted Bab al-Khair village this morning southeast of Ras al-Ain [Sari Kani],” the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the political arm of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement Friday afternoon. Five SDF fighters and “a number of civilians” were killed in the action, the SDC added.

US Vice President Mike Pence struck the five-day long cessation of hostilities with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Thursday and the SDF abided by it until their forces came under fire, the SDC stated.

With American forces withdrawn from the border region, there is no party on the ground to enforce the ceasefire. The SDC, therefore, called for an international body to intervene.

We call on the United Nations, the Security Council, the Arab League and, in particular, the United States of America – as the mediator and supervisor of this agreement – to do their responsibility and send international observers in order to maintain the agreement and the temporary ceasefire,” the SDC stated.

Seven civilians have been reported killed and more than 21 injured in Sari Kani since the ceasefire was brokered.

“The shelling still continues, preventing access to the injured and relief to civilians,” SDC stated.

The SDF and Turkey interpret the truce agreement differently. Kurds argue it means a ceasefire in areas where clashes are ongoing with no withdrawal of their forces, while Turkey and the US say the Kurdish forces have to retreat 32 kilometres and abandon their heavy weapons. The text of the agreement also says Turkish forces will control the safe zone.