U.S. President Donald Trump, during a press conference in the White House Wednesday, announced the Turkish cease-fire agreed upon last week would be “permanent,” and that he would lift all sanctions levied against Turkey after it had attacked northern Syria.
“The sanctions will be lifted unless something happens that we are not happy with,” he said.
Before the announcement, Trump tweeted the news saying the “ceasefire has held and combat missions have ended.”
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
The cease-fire, which started Thursday and was meant to last five days to allow Kurdish troops to evacuate the border zone, will become permanent. But Trump added that “you would also define the word ‘permanent’ in that part of the world as somewhat questionable, we all understand that, but I do believe it will be permanent.”
The U.S. president has faced a lot of heat for his decision to withdraw American troops out of northern Syria, abandoning the Kurds to fight the Islamic State terrorist group’s caliphate. But he used the announcement as a chance to bite back at some of his sharpest critics from both sides of the aisle.
“Let someone else fight over this long blood-stained sand,” Trump said, according to CNBC.
“The same people that I watched and read giving me and the United States advice were the people that I have been watching and reading for many years,” he continued. “They are the people who got us into the Middle East mess, but never had the vision or the courage to get us out. They just talk.” The permanent cease-fire “validates our course of action with Turkey that only a couple of weeks ago was scorned.”
Russian forces are now moving into the area to help Syrian Democratic Forces, who are led by the Kurds, withdraw safely. Russian state media claims the Russian troops will remain in the border zone to help patrol on the Syrian side of the border, while Turkish forces will patrol their side.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan negotiated the agreement on Tuesday.