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Turkish troops ready to continue offensive if truce not implemented: Minister

Published: Updated:

Turkish troops in northern Syria are ready to continue their offensive if a deal with Washington to pause the conflict is not fully implemented, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Saturday.

Turkey and Washington agreed on Thursday for Ankara to halt its offensive for 120 hours while the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia withdraws from a “safe zone” in northeastern Syria. On Saturday, the fragile ceasefire was holding along the Syrian border.

“We paused the operation for five days. In this time, the terrorists will withdraw from the safe zone, their weapons will be collected and position destroyed. If this doesn’t happen, we will continue the operation,” Akar said.

“Our preparations are ready. With the necessary order, our soldiers are ready to go anywhere,” he told an event in Kayseri.

Turkey on Saturday accused Kurdish forces of violating an agreement to suspend its Syria offensive if they withdraw from a “safe zone” along the border, but the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) denied Turkey’s claims.