Trump: Turkey promised ceasefire would be permanent; U.S. to lift sanctions

The president said that the definition of the word “permanent” could be somewhat questionable “in that part of the world,” but clarified that he believes that the ceasefire will hold.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a statement on the conflict in Syria with Vice President Mike Pence at his side in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 23, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS//TOM BRENNER)
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a statement on the conflict in Syria with Vice President Mike Pence at his side in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 23, 2019
(photo credit: REUTERS//TOM BRENNER)
WASHINGTON – The US will lift sanctions on Turkey after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised that the ceasefire along the border with Syria would become permanent, US President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday.
“[It is] a major breakthrough toward achieving a better future for Syria and for the Middle East,” Trump said in a White House speech. “Over the last five days, you have seen that the ceasefire we established along Syria’s border has held, and it’s held very well beyond most expectations. Early 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, and it will indeed be permanent.”
The president said that the definition of the word “permanent” could be somewhat questionable “in that part of the world,” but clarified that he believes that the ceasefire will hold.
“I’ve therefore instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to lift all sanctions imposed on October 14 in response to Turkey’s original offensive moves against the Kurds in Syria’s northeast border region,” Trump added.
He added that the US would continue to follow the situation on the ground.
“The sanctions will be lifted unless something happens that we’re not happy with,” Trump said. “The nations in the region must ultimately take on the responsibility of helping Turkey and Syria police their border. We want other nations to get involved. We’ve secured the oil, and therefore a small number of US troops will remain in the area where they have the oil, and we’re going to be protecting it, and we’ll be deciding what we’re going to do with it in the future.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Jim Jeffrey, the US Special Representative for Syria Engagement, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the US is aware of acts of war crimes in Northern Syria.
Asked if he believes that the US is "aiding and abetting ethnic cleansing," Jeffry responded: "We haven't seen any widespread ethnic cleansing in that area since the Turks have come in. Many people fled because they're very concerned about these Turkish supported Syrian opposition forces. We've seen several incidents which we consider war crimes, but we have as part of the agreement with a Turkey, specific language on the proper care of civilians and our monitoring responsibility that we have to work with the Turks to ensure that exactly that doesn't happen in that area." 
Jeffrey said that the Northeast region is quiet at the moment, "other than some minor shooting and some minor movements in between the Turkish and the YPG forces," and that the US expects it to stay quiet.
He added that the administration is currently considering hat is the best future policies to defeat ISIS. "We're also looking at what the options are for military and other support to the SDF to continue the fight against ISIS and to maintain stability in the Northeast," he continued. "No final decisions have been taken. This is under review at this time."
Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, slammed the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from northern Syria.
“I think what we did is so catastrophic, and it affects our ability to operate in that part of the world,” Engel said. “I think what happened here with the removal of American troops is catastrophic, absolutely catastrophic, and has the worst repercussions for this country for days and weeks and months to come. I’m just sick over it.”


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