Topline: Hours after Russian troops advanced further into northern Syria, President Trump announced on Wednesday that he will lift U.S. sanctions on Turkey after the country stopped hostilities and complied with a “permanent” cease-fire agreement.
- Trump said at the White House that Turkey’s agreed-upon cease-fire will “indeed be permanent” and that the sanctions will be lifted “unless something happens that we are not happy with.”
- The U.S. had previously imposed sanctions on Turkey on October 14, after the country invaded northern Syria following an announced withdrawal of American troops.
- Trump told reporters that the U.S. will leave Syria after almost 10 years of military presence in the region: “Let someone else fight over this long-blood-stained sand,” the president said.
- Turkey announced earlier that it was ending its hostilities in Syria after a deal was struck between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday.
- Russian troops will help with the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters in northern Syria and jointly patrol the region with Turkish troops, according to Russian state media.
- The U.S. was crucially left out of the Russo-Turkish deal yesterday, signalling that the two countries have no interest in including the U.S. in planning for Syria’s future.
Key background: Following Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria earlier this month, Kurdish fighters, the primary U.S. ally in the fight against ISIS, were attacked by Turkish troops in northern Syria. Trump’s decision was widely met with criticism from military chiefs and lawmakers on both sides.