Obama U.N. ambassador: Trump has 'endorsed ethnic cleansing'

President Obama's former ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha PowerSamantha Jane PowerPresident Trump's strike of choice Obama reveals his top books of 2019 Former US envoy Samantha Power: Trump finding 'new ways to compensate Putin for election interference' MORE, said Thursday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump denies telling Bolton Ukraine aid was tied to investigations Former senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses Title, release date revealed for Bolton memoir MORE had "endorsed ethnic cleansing" in comments made to White House reporters about Turkey's military action in northern Syria.

Trump told reporters earlier Thursday that the Turkish government "had to have it cleaned out." The remark referred to an area in northern Syria that is home to thousands of Kurdish civilians and some armed militia groups considered by the Turkish government to be terrorist groups. These Kurdish forces assisted a U.S.-backed coalition against ISIS.

Power responded on Twitter, calling Trump's remark a direct endorsement of "ethnic cleansing," which Turkish military forces have been accused of committing as thousands of civilians flee the conflict.

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The former U.N. ambassador serves as a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Law School. She has also suggested that she is considering a run for Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenPoll: Sanders leads Biden by 9 points in Iowa Poll: Biden leads in Iowa ahead of caucuses The Memo: Impeachment dominates final Iowa sprint MORE's (D-Mass.) seat if Warren won the presidency in 2020.

Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. forces from the area of northern Syria has led to widespread condemnations in Washington from lawmakers in both parties. Wednesday, the House overwhelmingly passed a condemnation of the troop withdrawal supported by GOP and Democratic leaders.

The Trump administration announced Thursday that a cease-fire agreement had been reached, though the announcement did not stem the tide of criticism from Congress.