US President Donald Trump praised Turkey yesterday for its efforts to ensure security and stability in northern Syria, as well its commitment to a deal with the US and Russia in the region.
Trump made the comments to reporters during his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in London on the sidelines of the NATO summit, following his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier that day.
"It was a very good meeting," he said, stating that one of the primary topics that was discussed was that of Syria and the latest developments regarding Turkey's involvement there. "We're getting along very well. The border and the safe zone is working out very well…and I give a lot of credit to Turkey for that. The ceasefire is holding very much."
He added that Turkey's efforts have earned "great respect" from many people, and that "They've been doing a job. And they've been doing a good job also on the border and in the safe zone." He also defended his decision almost two months ago to withdraw US forces from the war-torn country due to the launch of Turkey's military operation in north-east Syria.
Turkey launched its third military incursion – Operation Peace Spring – on 9 October, which aimed to both push back the US-backed Kurdish militias such as the Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) from the Turkish-Syrian border and establish a 32 kilometre-deep safe zone to house around two million Syrian refugees. After two weeks of the operation's launch and the capture of much of the former YPG territory, a deal was struck between Turkey and Russia, halting the operation and establishing an agreement regarding the fate of the zone and the methods with which it would be established.
As part of the deal, there were to be joint Turkish-Russian military land patrols across areas of the safe zone; the 13th patrol of which was conducted on Tuesday this week.
Trump's praise and positive comments on Turkey's efforts come after the US had been criticising the operation and even attempted to limit its accessibility to airspace over northern Syria, despite giving the greenlight to Turkey to proceed with it at first.