President Trump announced during a Wednesday press conference that the U.S. would be lifting economic sanctions against Turkey, and declared the fragile five-day ceasefire between Turkish and Kurdish forces a success despite sporadic clashes.
“The government of Turkey informed my administration that they would be stopping combat and their offensive in Syria, and making the ceasefire permanent,” Trump said. “You could 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.”
“I’ve therefore instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to lift all sanctions imposed” on Turkey after its invasion of northeast Syria, Trump continued. He hinted the sanctions would be reinstated if “something happens that we’re not happy with.”
Russian and Turkish forces had earlier come to an agreement on establishing a “safe zone” along the Turkish-Syrian border. Under the agreement, Turkish and Russian forces will remove Kurdish troops and weapons up to 30 kilometers from the border, while Turkey will patrol an area extending 10 kilometers into Syria.
Syrian President Bashar Assad slammed the agreement and Turkey’s incursion into the country
“Erdogan is a thief and is now stealing our land,” Assad told state media on a visit to Syria’s northeast region. He further pledged to retake all the territory claimed by Turkey for its safe zone.
Head of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces General Mazloum Abdi thanked Trump via the SDF Spokesman’s Twitter account.
“We THANK President Trump for his tireless efforts that stopped the brutal Turkish attack and jihadist groups on our people,” Mazloum’s statement read.
Trump has faced vociferous condemnation from lawmakers in response to his decision to remove American troops from the Syrian-Turkish border, paving the way for a Turkish invasion of the area. Congressmen and other officials have accused Trump of abandoning the Kurdish allies who fought alongside the U.S. against ISIS.