President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that a “permanent ceasefire” has been reached between Turkey and the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces that will end hostilities in the region.
Speaking at the White House, Trump also said that sanctions imposed on Turkey for its attacks on northern Syria will be lifted. Turkey attacked after the U.S. withdrew forces stationed in the contentious region.
“Let someone else fight over this long-bloodstained sand,” Trump said, noting that in the northern Syrian area along the border with Turkey, “thousands and thousands” have been killed.
Trump said the arrangement was a victory for all the people of the region, including the Kurds.
“We have done them a great service and we’ve done a great job for all of them, and now we’re getting out,” Trump said, saying a “small number of U.S. troops” would “remain in the area” to protect oil reserves.
Trump defended his action to withdraw U.S. troops from the region.
“We were supposed to be there for 30 days. That was almost 10 years ago. So we’re there for 30 days, and now we’re leaving. It’s supposed to be a very quick hit, and let’s get out and it was a quick hit except they stayed for almost 10 years,” he said.
“Today’s announcement validates our course of action with Turkey that only a couple of weeks ago was scorned, and now people are saying, ‘Wow, what a great outcome, congratulations.’”
Trump said that he hoped the cease-fire would end long-standing fighting between Turkey and the Kurdish population.
“I do believe it will be permanent,” he said, later adding, “you will also define permanent in that part of the world as somewhat questionable.”
“This was an outcome created by us, the United States, and nobody else,” Trump said. “We’ve done something very, very special.”
“I want to again thank everyone on the American team who helped achieve the ceasefire in Syria, saved so many lives. Along with president Erdogan of Turkey, a man I’ve gotten to know very well and a man who loves his country,” Trump said. “And in his mind, he’s doing the right thing for his country.”
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week to arrange an initial cease-fire that led to the deal announced Wednesday.
Trump hinted sanctions against Turkey could return.
“So the sanctions will be lifted unless something happens that we’re not happy with,” Trump said.
Although there had been reports that Islamic State fighters had been set free in the chaotic days after Turkey attacked, they have “been largely recaptured” and are now “under very strict lock and key,” according to the president.
Big success on the Turkey/Syria Border. Safe Zone created! Ceasefire has held and combat missions have ended. Kurds are safe and have worked very nicely with us. Captured ISIS prisoners secured. I will be making a statement at 11:00 A.M. from the White House. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2019
“Big success on the Turkey/Syria Border. Safe Zone created! Ceasefire has held and combat missions have ended. Kurds are safe and have worked very nicely with us. Captured ISIS prisoners secured. I will be making a statement at 11:00 A.M. from the White House. Thank you!” Trump tweeted.
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