US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday a ceasefire in northern Syria is now permanent and lifted sanctions on Turkey as a result, rejecting criticism of his decision to pull out US troops that allowed Kurdish allies to come under attack, Reuters reported.
In a White House speech Trump described the truce as a “major breakthrough” negotiated by a team led by Vice President Mike Pence. Trump said he instructed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to rescind sanctions imposed on Turkey after it attacked the Kurds “unless something happens that we are not happy with.”
“Countless lives are now being saved as a result of our negotiation with Turkey, an outcome reached without spilling one drop of American blood: no injuries, nobody shot, nobody killed,” Trump said.
He said he may meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan soon.
The speech failed to blunt attacks from US lawmakers over Trump’s abrupt decision early this month to withdraw troops out of northeastern Syria to clear the way for the Turkish incursion. Congress was still working on a sanctions package of its own to punish Turkey for its cross-border offensive.
Kurdish allies who helped the United States in its war against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants felt abandoned by Trump, whose policy created an opening that Russia has capitalized on by moving forces into the area. The fate of ISIL militants in Syrian Kurdish prisons also remains up in the air.