President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE on Thursday showered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with praise after the two sides announced a temporary cease-fire in northern Syria, with Turkey temporarily halting its military offensive.
The president declared the deal an "amazing outcome" even as many questions remain about the terms and Ankara's commitment to a cease-fire. Trump repeatedly credited Erdoğan, hailing the strong-arm president as a "hell of a leader."
"I just want to thank and congratulate President Erdoğan. He’s a friend of mine, and I’m glad we didn’t have a problem because, frankly, he’s a hell of a leader, and he’s a tough man," Trump told reporters while traveling in Texas.
"He’s a strong man, and he did the right thing and I really appreciate it, and I will appreciate it in the future."
Trump said he expects Erdoğan to visit the White House next month for a previously announced visit.
"What he did was very smart, and it was great for the people of Turkey," Trump said. "And they’re lucky that it was him that was making the decision."
The president's optimistic remarks came shortly after Vice President Pence announced in Ankara that the U.S. had reached a deal with Turkey to end the bloodshed in northern Syria.
Turkey will suspend its operations for 120 hours to allow Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a designated safe zone along the Turkish and Syrian border, Pence said. In return, the U.S. would lift sanctions imposed this week on Turkish officials.
Trump called it an "amazing outcome" and a "great day for civilization."
But Ankara has reneged on a similar deal in the past, and Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said shortly after the announcement that it did not amount to a cease-fire.
"We will pause the operation for 120 hours in order for the terrorists to leave," he said. "We will only stop the operation if our conditions are met."
The deal was necessitated by Trump's decision earlier this month to pull U.S. forces out of northern Syria. Within days, Turkey had advanced into the area and began attacking Kurdish fighters, leading to violence and uncertainty in the region.
The U.S. military relied on the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is led by the Kurds, as the local ground force fighting ISIS. But Ankara considers the Syrian Kurds terrorists who are an extension of a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.