Washington — Amid the growing chaos in Syria, President Donald Trump ordered all U.S. troops to withdraw from the north of the country to avoid a bloody conflict between Turkey and U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters that “worsens every hour,” said Defense Secretary Mark said Esper on Sunday. Esper, who spoke in two television interviews, did not say that the approximately 1,000 U.S. troops in Syria are leaving the country altogether. Trump’s national security team planned to meet later Sunday to assess the situation, Esper said, as U.S. officials continue to urge Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop his incursion.
When asked if he, though Turkey, a NATO ally, would deliberately attack US troops in Syria, Esper said, “I don’t know if they would do it or not.” He cited an incident on Friday in which a small number of U.S. troops fell under artillery fire at an observation post in the north. Esper called it an example of “indiscriminate fire” approaching Americans, adding that it was unclear if it was an accident. Esper said he spoke to Trump Saturday night amid rising signs that the Turkish invasion, which began on Wednesday, was becoming more dangerous.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. Photo: AP
In the last 24 hours, we learned that they (the Turks) probably intend to expand their attack further south than originally planned, and west, Esper said.
The Us has also come to believe that the Kurds are trying to “reach an agreement” with the Syrian army and Russia to counter the invading Turks, he said. As a result, Trump “ordered us to deliberately start withdrawing forces from northern Syria,” Esper.Trump said, in a tweet Sunday, said, “Very clever not to get involved in intense fighting along the Turkish border, for a change. Those who mistakenly got us into the Middle East Wars are still pushing to fight. They have no idea what a bad decision they’ve made. Why don’t you ask for a Declaration of War? Esper said he would not discuss a timeline for America’s setback, but said it would be done “as safely and quickly as possible.”
Donald Trump, president of the United States. Photo: AP
Esper did not say how many U.S. troops will leave the north, but says they represent most of the 1,000 troops in Syria.The Americans have been working for five years with a Kurdish-led Syrian group known as the Forces Syrian Democratics to fight the Islamic State group.urquía has long opposed the Kurdish-American alliance because it considers the elements of that force to be terrorists linked to an insurgency within Turkey.Esper said that was aware of reports of hundreds of IS prisoners escaping as a result of the Turkish invasion and atrocities committed against Syrian Kurds by members of a Syrian Arab militia supported by Turkey.
Syria. Photo: AP
“It gets worse by the hour, ” said Esper. “These are all the exact things” that U.S. officials warned that Erdogan would probably succeed by ignoring U.S. impulses not to invade northern Syria.Esper said there was “no way” for US forces they could have detained the Turks, who gathered a force of approximately 15,000 soldiers on the Syrian border, with the support of air power.
We are not enrolled to fight Turkey, a former NATO ally, on behalf of the (Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces). This is a terrible situation, he said.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin offered the possibility of swift action to impose economic sanctions on Turkey, a move Trump has repeatedly threatened if Turks push too hard in Turkey.” We will receive new information and are ready to put ourselves into practice at any time,” Mnuchin said. “Now we have warned the Turks…. They know what we’ll do if they don’t stop these activities.” Esper appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation” and “Fox News Sunday.” Mnuchin was interviewed on ABC’s “This Week.”