Trump to speak about conflict between Turkey and Kurds in Syria

Watch the president’s remarks in the video player above at 11 a.m. ET.

President Trump will make an announcement about the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds in northern Syria, after the Kurds largely withdrew from the region under the terms of a 120-hour ceasefire. The announcement comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin negotiated a new six-day ceasefire, which allows Russia to step into the power vacuum created after Mr. Trump announced the withdrawal of 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria.

“Big success on the Turkey/Syria Border. Safe Zone created! Ceasefire has held and combat missions have ended. Kurds are safe and have worked very nicely with us. Captured ISIS prisoners secured. I will be making a statement at 11:00 A.M. from the White House. Thank you!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning.

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Turkey launched an offensive into Syria against the Kurds earlier this month. The Turkish offensive has left dozens of civilians dead and driven more than 200,000 people from their homes in the region. A ceasefire negotiated by Erdogan and Vice President Mike Pence last week included a provision to relocate the Kurds from northeast Syria within 120 hours.

As part of the new deal negotiated by Erdogan and Putin, Turkey will get a nearly 20-mile-deep “safe zone” along its border, clear of the Kurdish militias that Erdogan’s government considers terrorists.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress condemned Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the region, accusing the president of abandoning the Kurdish allies who were instrumental in defeating the terrorist group ISIS. The Kurds were also in control of several prisons holding ISIS fighters and their families.

Mr. Trump insisted that his decision was motivated by a desire to end “endless wars” and return the troops to the U.S., although Defense Secretary Mark Esper said this week that the troops were being relocated across the border to Iraq, from where they would still be able to quickly deploy back into Syria to help quash any resurgence of ISIS.

However, Iraqi military officials said Tuesday that no permission had been granted for the U.S. to increase its troop presence in the country for an extended period. 

Esper quickly scheduled meetings with his counterparts in Baghdad and said the plan was for the American forces to remain only temporarily in Iraq before eventually coming home to the U.S., but he gave no timeline.

Holly Williams contributed to this report

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