05:54 GMT28 February 2021
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    The United States is urging its partners, including Turkey, to avoid intensifying the conflict in Syria before the cessation of hostilities comes into effect at the end of the week, US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Blinken’s comment came in response to a question about Turkey’s ongoing assault against Kurdish forces in Syria.

    "In order to [implement the agreement reached by the International Syria Support Group], one of the things that would be not only helpful, but probably necessary is for all groups to start to stand down, not ratchet up what they are doing," Blinken stated at a Brookings Institution conference in Washington, DC.

    On Saturday, Turkish forces began shelling the positions of Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria's Aleppo region.

    Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu claimed Turkish forces shelled Kurds' positions in northern Syria as a retaliatory measure within rules of engagement. Syria's Foreign Ministry branded the shelling as direct support of the terrorists on Sunday.


    Blinken noted that the US officials are "looking at all of our various partners on our side of the equation" to begin to stand down, and not try to gain more ground ahead of the ceasefire.

    Kurdish fighters, alongside the Syrian Armed Forces, have been fighting against terrorists in the north of the country.

    Last week the International Syria Support Group, co-chaired by the United States and Russia, signed an agreement to pause hostilities in Syria to ensure humanitarian aid deliveries. The cessation of hostilities against all groups, except UN-designated terrorist groups, is scheduled to go into effect at the end of this week.
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