- Leah Millis/Reuters
- President Donald Trump on Thursday praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for agreeing to a deal the US has characterized as a cease-fire in Syria.
- Turkey promptly disputed this and said it was “not a cease-fire.”
- This came after Vice President Mike Pence sat down for talks with Erdogan and declared they had reached a deal for a cease-fire that would allow Kurdish forces to withdraw from the area.
- The so-called cease-fire appears to be a big win for Turkey, as it pushes Kurdish forces it views as terrorists away from its border. The deal effectively means the US negotiated the surrender of the Kurds.
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President Donald Trump on Thursday praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for agreeing to an “amazing” cease-fire in Syria that Turkey’s foreign minister explicitly said was “not a cease-fire.”
“I just want to thank and congratulate President Erdogan. He’s a friend of mine, and I’m glad we didn’t have a problem because, frankly, he’s a hell of a leader,” Trump said to reporters.
“When those guns start shooting, they tend to do things, but I will tell you, on behalf of the US, I want to thank Turkey. I want to thank all of the people that have gotten together and made this happen,” Trump said. “I want to thank everybody. And the other thing I want to thank as a group, I want to thank the Kurds because they were incredibly happy with this solution. This is a solution that really – well it saved their lives, frankly. It saved their lives.”
Trump said it was a “great day for civilization” and a “great day for the Kurds.”
This came after Vice President Mike Pence sat down for talks with Erdogan and declared they had reached a deal for a cease-fire that would allow Kurdish forces to withdraw from the area.
Pence at a press conference said it would be a pause in military operations while the US facilitates the withdrawal of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the dominant militia in the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
“And once that is completed, Turkey has agreed to a permanent cease-fire, and the United States of America will work with Turkey – will work with nations around the world – to make sure peace and stability are the order of the day in this safe zone,” Pence added.
But Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu during a news conference said, “This is not a cease-fire.”
“We will pause the operation for 120 hours in order for the terrorists to leave,” Cavusoglu said. “We will only stop the operation if our conditions are met.”
Trump has faced rampant criticism over his decision to withdraw US forces from northeastern Syria that paved the way for a Turkish military operation. The move effectively abandoned Kurdish forces, who bore the brunt of the US-led campaign against ISIS, to the Turkish incursion.
The so-called cease-fire appears to be a big win for Turkey, as it pushes Kurdish forces it views as terrorists away from its border. The deal effectively means the US negotiated the surrender of the Kurds. The US has also said that once a permanent cease-fire is established, sanctions that were recently put in place would be lifted.
A day after the House overwhelmingly voted to condemn Trump’s Syria retreat, this development does not seem to have alleviated concerns on Capitol Hill.
In response to the announcement of the deal, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah said, “The announcement today is being portrayed as a victory. It is far from a victory.” Romney slammed Trump for abandoning the Kurds and called for public hearings on the Syria retreat.