USA won't take part in Turkey's Syria operation, says White House

Tuesday, 08 Oct, 2019

"They have been fighting Turkey for decades", Trump tweeted.

In an agreement between Ankara and Washington, joint patrols had been patrolling a security zone that covers over 125 kilometres along the border between the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn. "The U.S. Armed Forces will not support, or be involved in any such operation", said Jonathan Hoffman, assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.

For months, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to launch a military assault against Kurdish forces across the border as he views them as a threat to his country.

Some of President Donald Trump's staunchest allies aren't on board with the White House's abrupt Sunday night announcement that USA troops will begin withdrawing from Turkey's border in northeastern Syria.

The announcement followed a phone call between President Donald Trump and Erdogan, the White House said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he will introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey should it cross the Syrian border and attack Kurdish forces.

It is the Turkish most concrete plan of military intervention in the region since Turkey and the United States made a decision to establish a "safe zone" on the Syrian border that Turkey says should be cleared of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon said that it does not endorse a Turkish operation in northern Syria and asserted that Turkey would be responsible, along with European nations and others, for thousands of ISIS fighters who had been captured and defeated in the campaign lead by the US.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned on Sunday that the United States is seeking to exploit a group of Syrian Kurds by supporting them militarily.

The White House statement said "Turkey will now be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years", as France, Germany and other European nations from which they came refused U.S. requests to take them back.

Turkey is determined to continue to fight the IS in Syria and take all necessary measures to prevent such a problem in the region from happening again, Erdogan added.

"This is being worked on", he said.

Erdogan announced the military operation over the weekend that intends to drive the "terrorists" out of the region.

Erdogan's communications director, Fahrettin Altun, said Monday that Turkey would provide services to the areas it takes from the YPG militia.

United States forces have been pulling back from positions along the Turkey-Syria border after the White House said on Sunday it would not stand in the way of a Turkish operation against Kurdish militants in Syria.

Protesters marched several kilometers to reach a base near Tel Arqam, held by the US-led worldwide coalition which is allied with Kurdish-led forces against ISIS, the correspondent added. "But people here are owed an explanation regarding security mechanism deal, destruction of fortifications and the failure of United States to fulfill their commitments".

With the incursion, Estrrin says, Turkey hopes to "create a so-called safe zone to resettle the refugees" outside its own borders. The SDF had removed fortification from the areas, considered by Turkey as a threat, and retreated heavy weapons.

Turkey wants to clear Kurdish militiamen - whom it regards as terrorists - away from the border.

On Monday, Trump defended the decision in a series of tweets, saying: "The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so".

The Turkish leader has repeatedly expressed frustration with Washington's support for Kurdish groups in Syria. This morning he appeared to signal the start of a U.S. troop pullout from Syria and seemed to be washing his hands of the country, implicitly giving a green light for a major Turkish incursion.