Over and ‘out’: U.S. to withdraw troops from Syria near Turkey

by WorldTribune Staff, October 7, 2019

Saying that it was “time for us to get out of these ridiculous endless wars,” President Donald Trump on Oct. 7 said the United States will withdraw its forces from northern Syria near the Turkish border.

The move, which followed an Oct. 6 phone call between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will allow Turkey to conduct what is expected to be an operation against Kurdish-led forces in northeastern Syria, reports say.

U.S. troops have pulled back from key positions in Syria near the Turkish border, reports say. / DoD photo by SSG Bertha A. Flores

The U.S. action immediately generated scornful reactions from Iran and opposition from both parties in Washington.

Turkey for months has vowed to launch a military operation across its border with northeastern Syria, saying it wants to create a “safety zone” there, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on Oct. 7.

Reuters on Monday quoted an unidentified U.S. official as saying that U.S. forces had evacuated two observation posts at Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain.

British-based war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that U.S. forces had pulled back from key positions in the two localities.

Trump indicated in a series of tweets that it would be up to other countries, including Turkey, Russia, Iraq, and Iran to “figure the situation out.”

“The United States was supposed to be in Syria for 30 days, that was many years ago. We stayed and got deeper and deeper into battle with no aim in sight. When I arrived in Washington, ISIS was running rampant in the area. We quickly defeated 100% of the ISIS Caliphate, including capturing thousands of ISIS fighters, mostly from Europe,” Trump tweeted.

In another tweet, Trump wrote: “But Europe did not want them back, they said you keep them USA! I said ‘NO, we did you a great favor and now you want us to hold them in U.S. prisons at tremendous cost. They are yours for trials.’ They again said ‘NO,’ thinking, as usual, that the U.S. is always the ‘sucker,’ on NATO, on Trade, on everything. The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so.”

Trump continued: “They have been fighting Turkey for decades. I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home. WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN. Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out, and what they want to do with the captured ISIS fighters in their “neighborhood.” They all hate ISIS, have been enemies for years. We are 7000 miles away and will crush ISIS again if they come anywhere near us!”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said her would introduce a resolution “urging the president to reconsider” withdrawing from Syira.

“[H]ere’s what’s going to happen: This is going to lead to ISIS’s re-emergence — nothing better for ISIS than to create a conflict between the Kurds and Turkey,” Graham said. “The Kurds will now line with Assad because they have nobody to count on because we abandoned them, so this is a big win for Iran and Assad, a big win for ISIS.”

Erdogan said that Turkey “will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria.”

A statement said the United States, which has hundreds of troops in Syria, won’t “support or be involved” in the operation and that U.S. forces “will no longer be in the immediate area.”

“U.S. forces withdrew from the border areas with Turkey,” the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement.

The spokesperson for the SDF, which includes the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), said that the group had been “stabbed in the back” by the “surprise” U.S. statement.

Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades.

The YPG denies any direct organizational links to the PKK.

“There were assurances from the United States of America that it would not allow any Turkish military operations against the region,” SDF spokesperson Kino Gabriel told the Al-Hadath TV station.

Trump later tweeted that Kurdish militants “fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the United States was an “irrelevant occupier in Syria,” and that it was “futile to seek its permission or rely on it for security. Achieving peace & fighting terror in Syria will only succeed thru respect for its territorial integrity & its people.”

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