President Trump announced on Wednesday that he would be lifting sanctions placed on Turkey over their military offensive against U.S.-partnered Kurdish forces in Northern Syria, following the establishment of what he called a “permanent ceasefire” between the two groups. The president went on to declare that, despite receiving harsh criticism from officials on both sides of the political aisle over the abrupt removal of U.S. troops from the region, he considers the outcome to be an unequivocal victory for the United States.
“Countless lives are now being saved as a result of our negotiations with Turkey, an outcome reached without spilling one drop of American blood. No injuries, nobody shot, nobody killed,” Trump said during the press conference.
Earlier this month, Trump ordered U.S. Special Operations troops working alongside Kurdish forces against ISIS in Northern Syria to withdraw, seemingly creating an opportunity for Turkish troops to launch an offensive into the region against America’s former partners. U.S. troops left so quickly that Russian journalists have released video from inside abandoned U.S. bases showing personal items and equipment left behind. U.S. Air Force F-15s were even called in to bomb a U.S. installation after troops evacuated to prevent its ammunition stores from falling into Turkish hands.
The backlash from Democrats and Republicans was swift, as some faulted the president for turning his back on America’s Kurdish partners, others worried the withdrawal would result in a resurgence of ISIS, and still others fretted over how Trump’s decision appeared to benefit Russia and Bashar al Assad’s Syrian regime most of all.