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Photo: Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Turkish Presidency via Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence announced from Ankara on Thursday that Turkey has agreed to cease its military operation in northern Syria for 120 hours so that Kurdish forces can withdraw from the area.

The big picture: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously said that he would "never" agree to a ceasefire, after the U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria paved the way for Turkey to begin a military assault on U.S-allied Kurdish forces that they view as terrorists.

The breakthrough came after five hours of negotiations between Pence and Erdogan and followed the authorization of sanctions against Turkish officials earlier this week by President Trump.

  • As part of the deal, Pence said that the U.S. would not implement any more sanctions on Turkey and that it would revoke all economic punishments once a permanent ceasefire takes effect.
  • Pence also said Turkey agreed to re-commit to countering ISIS and to cooperate with the U.S. on securing ISIS detainees and guarding prison camps in Syria.
  • After Pence's announcement, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: "This is not a ceasefire. We will pause the operation for 120 hours in order for the terrorists to leave. We will only stop the operation if our conditions are met."

What to watch: The Kurds must now leave their territory in 120 hours. Asked by a reporter whether there is a future for Syrian Kurds, Pence said that the agreement today ends immediate violence, which is what Trump sent the U.S. delegation to Ankara do.

Between the lines: The agreement gives Turkey what it wants — the removal of sanctions and support for a "safe zone" free of YPG forces that they view as an extension of the Kurdish Workers' Party, which has carried out an insurgency inside Turkey for decades.

  • Significant harm, however, has already been done. Hundreds of Kurds have been killed, thousands have been displaced, and at least 1,000 ISIS prisoners and supporters have escaped prison camps since Trump's decision to move U.S. troops out of northern Syria.

What they're saying: Trump told reporters Thursday, "It's a great day for the United States, it's a great day for Turkey ... it's a great day for the Kurds. It's really a great day for civilization. ... I just want to thank and congratulate President Erdogan. He's a friend of mine and I'm glad we didn't have a problem because frankly he is a hell of a leader and a tough man, a strong man."

Go deeper: House overwhelmingly condemns Trump's Syria decision

Go deeper

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

Technical glitch in Facebook's ad tools creates political firestorm

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor

Facebook said late Thursday that a mix of "technical problems" and confusion among advertisers around its new political ad ban rules caused issues affecting ad campaigns of both parties.

Why it matters: A report out Thursday morning suggested the ad tools were causing campaign ads, even those that adhered to Facebook's new rules, to be paused. Very quickly, political campaigners began asserting the tech giant was enforcing policies in a way that was biased against their campaigns.

8 hours ago - Health

States beg for Warp Speed billions

A COVID-19 drive-thru testing center yesterday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Photo: David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP

Operation Warp Speed has an Achilles' heel: States need billions to distribute vaccines — and many say they don't have the cash.

Why it matters: The first emergency use authorization could come as soon as next month, but vaccines require funding for workers, shipping and handling, and for reserving spaces for vaccination sites.