U.S. President Donald Trump ordered sanctions on two Turkish ministries and three Turkish ministers be lifted Wednesday following what he said was Turkey’s vow to halt its operation in northeast Syria.
Trump said the Turkish government informed his administration earlier Wednesday morning “that they would be stopping combat and their offensive in Syria, and making the cease-fire permanent.”
“However, you would define the word ‘permanent’ in that part of the world as somewhat questionable,” Trump said in the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room. “The sanctions will be lifted unless something happens that we’re not happy with.”
“Today’s announcement validates our course of action with Turkey,” he added.
Trump imposed sanctions Oct. 14 on Turkey’s Defense, and Energy and Natural Resources ministries, as well as Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Fatih Donmez.
The Treasury Department confirmed, following Trump’s announcement, that all of the sanctions have been removed.
On Oct. 9, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Ankara agreed with Washington on Oct. 17 to pause its operation to allow YPG/PKK terrorists to withdraw from the planned safe zone.
Trump said he has gotten to know Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “very well,” saying the Turkish leader is “a man who loves his country.”
“We may be meeting in the very near future,” he said.
The presidents are expected to meet in Washington Nov. 13.
Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a meeting Tuesday in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi just hours before the pause was set to expire.
Ankara and Moscow reached a deal under which PKK/YPG terrorists will pull back 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Turkey’s border with northern Syria within 150 hours and security forces from Turkey and Russia will conduct joint patrols there.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK.
Trump further confirmed that “a small number” of U.S. troops will remain in Syria “where they have the oil.” The president did not specify where the troops would be stationed, nor how many he is considering, but said “we’re going to be protecting” the oil.
“And we’ll be deciding what we’re going to do with it in the future,” he added.