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Kurdish General Slams U.S.-Syria Policy; Gen. Petraeus Calls Withdrawal 'A Betrayal'


As the five-day cease-fire along Turkey's border with Syria continues to falter, the commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) tells NPR he thinks the deal is "really terrible."

Under the deal, announced Thursday by Vice President Pence, Turkey agreed to halt its military offensive into the Syrian border region and the U.S. agreed to help usher the Kurdish-led forces out. Gen. Mazloum Kobani Abdi, top commander of the SDF, said his troops are committed to a temporary pause in fighting — but he is unwilling to fully evacuate his forces from the highly contested 20-mile-wide zone along hundreds of miles of the Syrian border.

Abdi says the SDF only agreed to withdraw its forces from "a few specific points," not the entire region under discussion. In an interview with NPR's Daniel Estrin and Lama Al-Arian, the commander said, "We've asked for a corridor in order for us to be able to withdraw our forces ... but [Turkish forces] haven't yet opened one."

Meanwhile, Turkish-backed forces remain in the area. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that if the Kurdish-led forces do not retreat by Tuesday, Turkey will resume its offensive.