Trump Says Turkey Will End Combat in Syria, Sanctions Will Be Lifted

October 23, 2019 Updated: October 23, 2019

President Donald Trump on Wednesday hailed a ceasefire that was established along the Syrian borders, saying Turkey’s government informed him in the morning that it would be “stopping combat” and will “make the ceasefire permanent” amid its incursion into Kurdish-held territory in Syria.

“I do believe it will be permanent,” he said, adding that the Treasury Department will “lift all sanctions” against Turkish officials that were imposed earlier this month. The sanctions will be lifted unless Turkey “does something we’re not happy with,” he said.

“How many Americans must die in the Middle East?” Trump asked, saying that the United States has been meddling in “ancient, tribal conflicts.”

But the president said a small number of U.S. troops will remain in the area.

“I think we have something that will be strong and hold up,” he said, adding that Turkey and the Kurds have been “fighting for centuries” and noted that U.S. troops should have been there for 30 days but stayed for nearly a decade.

Meanwhile, Trump said he spoke with a Turkish general, who told him that ISIS terrorists will be kept locked up.

Ankara must “ensure ISIS does not regain any territory. It’s their neighborhood,” Trump said in the press conference.

Trump wrote in a tweet on Wednesday there has been success along the Turkey-Syria border since American troops were withdrawn. Some Congressional Republicans and Democrats have criticized the move, saying it would put Kurdish forces at risk against Turkey.

“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,” he said.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to create a buffer zone in northern Syria and will remove Kurdish fighters along the border, saying a “safe zone” would be implemented in the region.

Starting on Oct. 23, Russian forces and Syrian border guards will “facilitate the removal of [Kurdish] YPG elements and their weapons to the depth” of 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the Turkish–Syrian border.

A convoy of U.S. vehicles is seen after withdrawing from northern Syria, on the outskirts of Dohuk, Iraq, on Oct 21, 2019. (Ari Jalal/Reuters)
Turkish soldiers and Turkey-backed Syrian fighters gather on the northern outskirts of the Syrian city of Manbij near the Turkish border on Oct. 14, 2019, as Turkey and its allies continue their assault on Kurdish-held border towns in northeastern Syria. Turkey wants to create a roughly 20-mile buffer zone along its border to keep Kurdish forces at bay and also to send back some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees it hosts. (Zein Al Rifai/AFP via Getty Images)

And after five days, Russian and Turkish patrols “will start in the west and the east of the area of Operation Peace Spring with a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), except Qamishli city,” stated a memorandum of understanding between the two nations.

The announcement from the two nations came several days after Turkey incurred into northern Syria on Oct. 9 to remove Kurdish fighters that it has described as “terrorists” from the area.