The pause in Turkey's anti-terror operation in Syria is not a ceasefire, Turkey’s foreign minister said Thursday.
"Turkey will end the operation in northern Syria only after YPG/PKK terrorists leave [the safe zone]," Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a news conference.
Cavusoglu said Turkey will pause the operation for the YPG/PKK’s withdrawal within five days while stressing that this is not a ceasefire, as this can only happen between two legitimate sides.
"When we pause the operation, the U.S. will stop the sanctions attempts, and we can only end the operation after the previous conditions have been met," he said, adding when the YPG withdraws from the region, then the operation will end.
Referring to article nine of the joint Turkish-U.S. statement, he said the two sides also agreed on the collection of the YPG’s heavy weapons and the disablement of their fortifications and all other fighting positions.
Turkey and the U.S. “agreed on collecting the heavy weapons of the YPG, destroying their positions and fortifications," Cavusoglu added.
Referring to today's negotiations with the U.S., he said Turkey got what it wanted as a result of the strong leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"The U.S. side, as part of protection of Turkey's legitimate security interests, acknowledged the importance and functionality of the safe zone," Cavusoglu said, stressing that it is fully agreed that the safe zone will be under the control of the Turkish Armed Forces, meaning that the U.S. accepted the aims and legitimacy of Turkey's anti-terror operation in northeast Syria.
Referring to Turkey's fight against Daesh, in which Turkey has neutralized over 4,000 Daesh terrorists in Iraq and Syria so far, he said Turkey and the U.S. committed to continue fighting against the terror group in northeast Syria.
Following the meetings between Erdogan and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish-U.S. delegations in Ankara, the two sides reached a 13-article agreement on northeast Syria.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria on Oct. 9 in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Ankara wants to clear the region east of the Euphrates River of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the YPG.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.