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Trump lifting sanctions on Turkey for permanent ceasefire with the Kurds

U.S. President Donald Trump and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan are pictured during the opening ceremony of the summit of the NATO military alliance, Wednesday July 11, 2018, in Brussels, Belgium. (Abaca Press/TNS)
October 23, 2019

President Donald Trump on Wednesday touted the conclusion of a Turkish military ceasefire with Kurdish fighters in northern Syria and the end to economic sanctions against Turkey.

In a press statements, Trump said a five-day ceasefire agreement negotiated between the U.S. and Turkey has held even better than expected and that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had called him earlier Wednesday morning to announce the end of a Turkish military operation to establish a 20 mile wide, 300 mile long safe zone along its border with Syria. According to Politico, Trump announced the end to U.S. sanctions against Turkey, following the end of its military operation in northern Syria.

“Big success on Turkey/Syria Border. Safe Zone created! Ceasefire has held and combat missions have ended,” Trump said in a twitter statement alluding to the announcement. “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!

While Trump announced a “permanent” ceasefire, he acknowledged that, the U.S. would keep a watch of the situation unless “something happens that we’re not happy with.”

“You would find that word ‘permanent’ in that part of the world is somewhat questionable, we all understand that,” Trump said, “But I do believe it will be permanent.”

The controversial Turkish military operation followed a decision by Trump to withdraw U.S. troops from Syrian outposts. Lawmakers and foreign policy commentators in the U.S. raised concern about the Turkish targeting of the Kurdish Syrian Defense Force (SDF) and the potential escape of ISIS prisoners.

Trump has argued that his decision effectively allowed for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from what was originally meant to be limited military engagement in Syria and did not come at the cost of American lives.

Trump hailed Wednesday’s outcome as one engineered through U.S. diplomacy alone and no other nation.

“We’re willing to take blame and we’re also willing to take credit,” Trump said.

He called on other countries to assist Turkey and Syria in policing their borders. He said a small contingent of U.S. troops remaining in Syria would instead shift their focus to maintaining control of oil fields in the region.

In his comments Trump said General Mazloum Abdi, the leader of the Kurdish SDF, expressed thanks for the ceasefire agreement.

Mazloum appeared to confirm Trump’s assessment of the peace with Turkey in a series of tweets on Monday.

Trump said Mazloum also provided assurances that ISIS fighters in Kurdish captivity will remain secure and that escaped ISIS members have been largely recaptured.