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Trump lifts Turkey sanctions

Christian Fernsby |
President Donald Trump announced the lifting of U.S. sanctions against Turkey and defended his abrupt pullout from Syria, saying "let someone else fight" over the "blood-stained" country.

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a White House speech that formalized ceding of US and Kurdish control in northern Syria to Turkey and Russia, Trump insisted that Kurdish guerrillas who had fought alongside US troops were happy.

The president, whose Syria policy has come under withering criticism from his own Republican party, said he'd just spoken with the Kurdish commander in the country, Mazloum Abdi, and he was "extremely thankful."

Trump touted a "major breakthrough," referring to a ceasefire that allowed Turkish troops to occupy a swath of northern Syria mostly unopposed, with US troops and Kurdish fighters abandoning their previous strongholds.

Ankara ordered the invasion of the Syrian territory on October 9 because it said it wanted to create a security cordon free of Kurdish armed groups that it considers to be terrorists, linked to Kurdish rebels inside Turkey.

The long-planned operation started only after Trump announced the exit of a small, but politically signficant US military force which had until then been closely allied with the Kurds in a joint fight against Islamic State jihadists in Syria.

Trump said he didn't want the US troops caught in the middle of a Turkish-Kurdish fight.

Accused of betraying the Kurds by both Republicans and Democrats, Trump imposed sanctions on Turkey on October 14 and sent a delegation to persuade Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to order a brief ceasefire, allowing the Kurds to withdraw.

In a tweet from a spokesman, Mazloum thanked Trump "for his tireless efforts that stopped the brutal Turkish attack and jihadist groups on our people."

As US troops and the Kurds exited areas near Turkey's border, Turkish troops and Russian troops, who have propped up Syrian President Bashar Assad through his country's multi-sided civil war, moved in.

The first Russian patrol in northern Syria got underway on Wednesday, the defense ministry in Moscow announced.

Trump insisted this power shift is a win for Washington and that he is fulfilling a campaign promise by washing his hands of "ancient sectarian and tribal conflicts."


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