President Donald Trump announced he is lifting U.S. sanctions against Turkey as its forces suspended their offensive against the Kurds in northern Syria and instituted a separate agreement with Moscow that sent Russian security forces to begin patrolling nearby, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The approximately six-day pause began midday Wednesday after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey struck a deal with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi a day earlier.
Trump said the Turkish government informed his administration Wednesday that it is stopping combat and making the U.S.-negotiated cease-fire permanent, adding, “And it will indeed be permanent.”
“So the sanctions will be lifted unless something happens that we are not happy with,” said Trump, referring to the sanctions imposed earlier this month against Turkey’s defense, interior and energy ministers and their departments, coupled with a threat to raise U.S. tariffs on steel imported from Turkey to 50%.
The deal negotiated between Ankara and Moscow effectively supplemented a cease-fire agreement brokered by Vice President Mike Pence last week that expired on Tuesday and highlights how the U.S. withdrawal has diminished Washington’s ability to exert influence in Syria, the Journal adds.
U.S. lawmakers in both parties, who have criticized Trump’s moves on Syria, questioned his assertions Wednesday and called for more forceful action. “Erdogan has NOT agreed to stop all military operations in Syria,” Senator Marco Rubio wrote in a Twitter message following Trump’s remarks. Rubio said Russia and Turkish forces have plans for removing Kurdish forces along the border, “including Kurdish cities.”