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

President Obama's former ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha PowerSamantha Jane PowerFormer US envoy Samantha Power: Trump finding 'new ways to compensate Putin for election interference' Former UN ambassador: Republicans have made a 'devil's bargain' to accept Trump Obama U.N. ambassador: Trump has 'endorsed ethnic cleansing' MORE, said Thursday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' 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 Warren2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Sanders doubles down on Bolivia 'coup,' few follow suit Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul 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.