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

President Obama's former ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha PowerSamantha PowerHow Trump broke the system that offers protection to Afghan allies Aid airlift underway to earthquake-striken Haiti With Haiti in chaos, we must rewrite the script on disaster aid MORE, said Thursday that President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal 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 WarrenFederal Reserve officials' stock trading sparks ethics review Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack 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.