Shelling heard around Syrian town after Turkish-US ceasefire deal

The reporter, across the border from Ras al Ain, heard the sound of machine-gun fire and shelling in the area of the Syrian town. PHOTO: AFP

CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (REUTERS) - Shelling and gunfire resounded in the area of north-east Syria's Ras al Ain town on Friday (Oct 18), a day after Turkey agreed with the United States to pause its offensive in Syria for five days to let Kurdish-led forces withdraw.

From the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar across the border from Ras al Ain, the sound of machine-gun fire and shelling was heard in the area of Ras al Ain. Smoke rose from one part of the Syrian town.

The truce was announced by US Vice President Mike Pence after talks in Ankara with Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan, and was praised by President Donald Trump, who said it would save "millions of lives."

If implemented it would achieve all the main objectives Turkey announced when it launched its assault on Oct 9: control of a strip of Syria more than 30km deep that Kurdish forces, which were once US allies, would withdraw from. The area would then become a " safe zone" long sought by Turkey, which brands the Kurdish fighters as "terrorists".

It was also unclear if the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) would fully comply with the agreement, which would leave Turkish forces in charge of a swathe of territory that the Kurds once held with US military support.

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