President Donald Trump announced the U.S. will be lifting sanctions on Turkey, saying he has been informed by Ankara that its ceasefire in an offensive against Kurds in northeastern Syria will be permanent.
“The sanctions will be lifted unless something happens that we are not happy with,” Trump said in a speech at the White House.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2019
Turkey on Tuesday said there is “no need” to resume its military offensive against Syrian Kurds, saying the U.S. has told it that the Kurdish withdrawal from the northern Syrian border is complete.
Turkey made its announcement hours after the five-day long cease-fire expired in the Turkish military incursion into what had been a Kurdish safe zone in northern Syria.
Turkey Says ‘No Need’ to Resume Offensive Against Kurds Statement comes as 5-day cease-fire ends in northern Syria as US reports ‘complete’ Kurdish withdrawal
The Syrian Kurds fought alongside U.S. forces against Islamic State terrorists. But Turkey considers them to be linked with Kurdish separatists who have long fought for autonomy inside Turkey. Turkey calls the Kurds terrorists.
Turkey launched its offensive after Trump ordered nearly all U.S. forces out of northern Syria two weeks ago.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reached an agreement Tuesday on joint control of the Syrian border region.
Video provided by VOA’s Kurdish service showed Russian military vehicles entering the city of Kobani, on the border with Turkey.
Under the agreement, Kurdish fighters would be kept 30 kilometers from the entire 440-kilometer Turkish-Syrian border, and also withdraw from the towns of Manbij and Tel Rifaat.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper talks with U.S. troops in front of an F-22 fighter jet deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Lolita Baldor)
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Mark Esper arrived in Baghdad Wednesday for talks with Iraqi officials about the arrival of U.S. troops recently withdrawn from northern Syria.
Seven hundred or more troops have moved into western Iraq, where 5,000 military personnel are already deployed.
Angry Kurds screamed obscenities and pelted a U.S. convoy with rotten potatoes as the convoy headed through the streets of Duhok in the Iraqi Kurdistan region on the way to Iraq.
Esper has said the additional troops would help defend Iraq and be available to conduct anti-terrorism operations against Islamic State insurgents inside Syria.
But the Iraqi government says the troops do not have permission to stay in the country.
During his visit to Saudi Arabia, the U.S. defense chief said that “eventually their destination is home” back in the United States.