Secretary of defense Mark Esper slams Turkey over its recent offensive into northern Syria suggesting the move could have unraveled years of progress in decimating the ISIS caliphate.
Esper made the remarks while speaking at the German Marshall Fund in Brussels saying, “Turkey put us all in a very terrible situation.”
The defense secretary continued by saying, “I think President Erdogan was fixated on making this incursion for one reason or another and there was not a possibility that we were going to start a war with a NATO ally.”
Esper’s remarks come just one day after President Trump announced Turkey has agreed to a permanent ceasefire in northern Syria.
The president also disclosed all sanctions enacted against Turkey earlier this month for carrying out the offensive will be lifted.
The president signed the executive order authorizing the sanctions, canceled trade talks involving a $100 billion trade deal, and also spiked steel tariffs back up to 50%.
The sanctions targeted a series of Turkish officials and institutions for the nation’s escalating aggression with Kurdish forces along the Turkish-Syrian border.
The executive order also involved the blocking of property and prohibited certain individuals from entering the United States.
Meanwhile, Russia has deployed troops to northern Syria in an effort to patrol the area and ensure Kurdish forces have left the region.
Russia officials issued stark warnings to the Kurds telling them if they do not leave the area, they will be “steamrolled” by the Turkish military.
This comes shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Sochi to broker a deal addressing the ongoing escalation as the 120-hour ceasefire ended.
The pair reached an agreement which mandates all Kurdish fighters must leave the area, and were given until midnight local time to do so.