President Donald Trump ended sanctions against Turkey on Wednesday, drawing a line under American involvement in “blood-stained” Syria, as Turkish and Russian troops seized territory previously held by US troops and their beleaguered Kurdish allies.The long-planned operation started after Trump announced the exit of the small, but politically significant US military force which had until then been closely allied with the Kurds.
“Let someone else fight over this long blood-stained sand,” Trump said in a White House speech that formalized the ceding of power in northern Syria to Ankara and increasingly influential Moscow.
Trump said he was lifting the sanctions because a ceasefire was holding in the area, which Turkey invaded to drive Kurdish military groups from their strongholds.
Trump called the ceasefire, which allowed the Turkish takeover to proceed largely unopposed, a “major breakthrough.”
Rejecting accusations that he betrayed the Syrian Kurds — who suffered thousands of casualties fighting alongside US troops against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group — Trump said they were happy.
The president said the Kurdish commander in the country, Mazloum Abdi, had just told him he was “extremely thankful.”