Speaking at a campaign rally in Dallas on Thursday, US President Donald Trump again praised efforts by Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to clinch a ceasefire in Syria.
“Sometimes you have to let them fight. Like two kids in a lot, then you pull them apart”, Trump told a campaign rally in Dallas, referring to Kurdish and Turkish forces.
After these forces “fought for a few days, we went there and we said, ‘we want a pause’,” the US President explained.
Trump went on to say that “Turkey is a fellow NATO ally of the US”, while “the Kurdish forces known as the YPG were vital in the fight against ISIS [Daesh*]”.
"President Erdogan was a gentleman, he understood. But without a little tough love […] they would’ve never made this deal,” POTUS concluded.
The remarks came shortly after Trump took to Twitter to applaud a Syrian ceasefire, stressing that “millions of lives will be saved” as a result.
This deal could NEVER have been made 3 days ago. There needed to be some “tough” love in order to get it done. Great for everybody. Proud of all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2019
In another tweet, he claimed that the ceasefire deal “could never have been made 3 days ago” and that “there needed to be some ‘tough’ love in order to get it done”.
Damascus, Kurds at Odds Over Ceasefire Deal
While senior Kurdish official Aldar Khalil welcomed the ceasefire deal, the Syrian President's political adviser Bouthaina Shaaban, for her part, stated that “the ceasefire agreement announced by the US and Turkey is unclear”.
“As for the term 'security zone’, it is incorrect: what Turkey really implies is a zone of occupation”, she added.
The ceasefire was announced following four-hour talks in Ankara between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US Vice President Mike Pence, who said that the ceasefire will last 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of YPG forces from the area to a distance of about 30 kilometres (about 20 miles) from the border with Turkey.
Ankara's Military Operation in Syria
On 9 October, Turkey kicked off its Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria after Trump withdrew support for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and related Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in the region referred to by its de facto rulers as the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria and often referred to as Rojava by the Kurds.
Turkey views the YPG as a terrorist organisation, related to the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK). According to Ankara, the offensive is aimed at clearing the border area of "terrorists" and creating a security zone for about 3 million Syrian refugees currently residing in Turkey.
Damascus condemned the operation by describing it as an act of aggression that undermines Syria's territorial integrity. Turkey also faced strong international criticism for its decision to start an offensive in Syria, with several nations either imposing sanctions or suspending arms deliveries to Ankara.
*Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State), a terrorist group banned in Russia and a number of other countries