- The Washington Times - Friday, October 18, 2019

President Trump said the cease-fire between Turkey and Syria is going “very, very well” despite reports of some sniper and mortar fire early Friday.

“That was eliminated quickly. We’re back to the full pause,” Mr. Trump said. “We have [the Islamic State] totally under guard, Turkey is also guarding separately, they’re watching over everything.”

He said the Kurds, who are being driven from a buffer zone on the Turkey-Syria border, “are very happy about the way things are going, I must say.”

Members of Congress say the cease-fire negotiated between Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been oversold, effectively allowing Turkey to claim the lands they want at the expense of American-allied Kurdish fighters.

Critics say Mr. Trump abandoned Kurds — who once helped the U.S. rout the Islamic State, or ISIS — for a second time.

Mr. Trump made a surprise decision last week to withdraw U.S. troops from their position in Syria, where they were acting as a buffer between various sides. The president said he was elected to get the U.S. out of endless wars.

Critics said the pullout, which Mr. Trump conveyed to Turkey’s government before announcing it publicly, amounted to a green light for Turkey — a NATO ally — to invade and do battle with the Kurds,

Mr. Trump told reporters Friday he took an unconventional approach to a yearslong dispute in the region, so he deserves credit for negotiating a pause in violence and withdrawing the U.S. from the fight.

“Well see if it works, it’s very fragile,” he added. “Literally for centuries they’ve [been] fighting each other.”

Mr. Trump also said, via tweet, that some European nations are willing to take back Islamic State fighters who were previously captured, though didn’t offer more details.

“This is good news, but should have been done after WE captured them,” he wrote. “Anyway, big progress being made!!!!”

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