President Trump on Wednesday announced that Turkey and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria will begin a “permanent ceasefire” as he renewed his pledge that the United States military will leave the region.
“Let someone else fight over this long-bloodstained sand,” Trump said in the Diplomatic Room at the White House, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien. “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 added.
Trump said that he heard on Wednesday morning that the ceasefire would begin. “Earlier this morning, the government of Turkey informed my administration that they would be stopping combat and their offensive in Syria and making the ceasefire permanent,” he said.
“I do believe it will be permanent,” he said. “How we define the word ‘permanent’ in that part of the world is somewhat questionable, we all know that, but I believe it will be permanent.”
“This was an outcome created by us, the United States, and nobody else,” he added. “… we’ve done something very, very special.”
“I want to again thank everyone on the American team who helped achieve the cease fire in Syria, saved so many lives. Along with president [Recep Tayyip] 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.”
But Trump also said other countries had helped.
“Others have come out to help, and we welcomed them to do so; other countries have stepped forward,” Trump said, referring to negotiations in Sochi, Russia, on Tuesday between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Erdogan. “They want to help and we think that’s great.”
Under a 10-point deal worked out by foreign leaders, Russia and Turkey will give Kurdish fighters 150 hours starting at noon Wednesday to withdraw from the border. Russian and Syrian forces would then move into the area to ensure Kurdish fighters move at least 20 miles back from the border. After 150 hours, a joint Russian-Turkish patrol would begin along a six-mile-wide demilitarized zone on the border of Turkey and Syria.
The president also said that with the ceasefire, the United States would lift sanctions against Turkey. The U.S. imposed sanctions this month on Turkey’s Ministry of National Defense and its Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. “As a result of the cease-fire, and at the direction of President Donald J. Trump, Treasury is delisting two Turkish ministries and three of the country’s senior officials,” Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
But Trump said if Turkey does not adhere to the ceasefire, sanctions could be reimposed. “The sanctions are lifted unless something happens that we’re not happy with,” he said.