WASHINGTON — U.S. sanctions against Turkey for its military incursion into Syria ended today, with the U.S. firmly out of the contested region and the new military alignment firmly in charge.
President Trump said Wednesday that conditions have been met between Turkey and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the former U.S. ally, and that a “permanent ceasefire” between the two sides will occur.
Because of that, Trump said he is lifting nascent sanctions on Turkey that were implemented days after Ankara’s invasion, according to news reports.
The initial 120-hour ceasefire on the Turkish military incursion into Syria expired Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Pentagon officials said Wednesday that at least 100 ISIS prisoners have escaped from prisons in areas where Turkish forms have moved out Kurdish troops.
The new agreement forces Kurdish troops that did the costly ground fight against ISIS in the US-led coalition to vacate a roughly 20-mile zone on the Turkish border. With Kurdish troops gone, Turkey will halt its assault and Russian troops and Syrian army elements will flow into the area to keep the two sides apart.
Under the 10-point agreement, Kurdish fighters have until next Tuesday at 6 p.m. to withdraw from the border. Then Russian and Syrian government forces would occupy the land to keep Kurdish troops at 20 miles from the border. After that, Russian-Turkish patrols would begin along a six-mile-wide strip of the border, according to news reports.
Similar joint US-Turksih patrols were started just days before the Turkish invasion and deemed inffecitve by Anakara.
The only border area where Kurds can stay in their homes — at least for now — is in and around Qamishli at the far eastern end of the border.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper, currently on a trip to the Middle East and Europe, met with Iraqi officials after Baghdad made it clear that the U.S. troops ordered out of Syria by Trump were not welcome to stay in Iraq.
“We’ll reposition as they come out of northeast Syria into Iraq. You know, eventually, their destination is home,” Esper told Pentagon reporters. “What we’ve got to do is pull them out deliberately, out of northeast Syria, and make our preparations to go home from there. The aim isn’t to stay in Iraq interminably; the aim is to pull our soldiers out and eventually get them back home.”