A day earlier, the ministry said Turkey was "completely abiding" by a US-brokered ceasefire in northern Syria, and accused Kurdish fighters of carrying out 14 "attacks" over the past 36 hours, mostly near the border town of Ras al-Ayn.
Dozens of vehicles rolled out of a besieged Syrian border town, evacuating Kurdish fighters and civilians and opening the way for Turkish-backed forces to take over in the first pullback under a three-day-old US -brokered cease-fire.
Syrian Kurdish-led forces and Turkey exchanged blame on Saturday for fighting that has rattled a US -brokered cease-fire in northeastern Syria, as the Kurds appealed to Vice President Mike Pence to enforce the deal.
The truce also aimed to ease a crisis triggered by President Donald Trump's abrupt decision earlier this month to withdraw all 1,000 American troops from northern Syria, a move criticised in Washington and elsewhere as a betrayal of loyal Kurdish allies who had fought for years alongside USA troops against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militants.
Erdogan has said the Kurdish fighters must withdraw from a far larger length of the border from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border - more than 440 kilometres (260 miles) - or else the Turkish offensive will resume on Tuesday.
Speaking at an event in Istanbul, Erdogan said he had told the European Union countries and the United States delegation with which he struck the deal that Turkey would resume the operation if the deal faltered.
The president himself felt his decision to leave Syria was a very smart choice, one that would benefit the United States in the long run.
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The cease-fire agreement gives Turkey virtually everything it wanted to accomplish in the invasion, including requiring Kurdish fighters to vacate a swath of territory in Syria along the Turkish border.
"Turkey and its mercenaries have absolutely not abided by it and repeatedly violated it", they said in a statement.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing operations, said the USA military is not closely monitoring the effectiveness of the cease-fire, but is aware of sporadic fighting and violations of the agreement.
In Washington, U.S. senators who have criticized the Trump administration for failing to prevent the Turkish assault in the first place said they would press ahead with legislation to impose sanctions against Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.
Esper's comments to reporters traveling with him were the first to specifically lay out where American troops will go as they shift from Syria and what the counter-IS fight could look like.
A Britain-based war monitor said the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had yet to start pulling back on Saturday.
The additional USA troop contingent would add to the more than 5,000 American troops already based in the country. We will discuss this matter with Mr. (Vladimir) Putin on Tuesday because we have to find a solution.
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Kobane told NBC: "America has full responsibility for what is happening now because we trusted them for five years in the continuing war against Isis.
Bringing soldiers home!", he continued.
See the letter Trump sent Erdogan.
Kurdish commander Normal Mazlum Kobane stated he is attempting to tug his forces again from Ras al-Ain, however Turkey shouldn't be permitting it.
Trump said in a tweet that he spoke Friday with Erdogan who said there had been some "minor sniper and mortar fire" that was quickly stopped.
"They are the losers, they lose territory, their margin of manoeuvre has contracted dramatically", Wimmen said, noting that Kurds had in recent days turned to Syrian Leader Bashar al-Assad for military assistance.
Ankara says they have shared coordinates with the U.S. of safe evacuation paths for the Kurdish fighters to withdraw from.
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Turkey says the "safe zone" would make room to settle up to 2 million Syrian war refugees - roughly half the number it is now hosting - and would push back the YPG militia, which Ankara deems a terrorist group due to its links to Kurdish insurgents in southeast Turkey. "The fighting died down in mid-morning".