The White House announced late Sunday that Turkey will soon move forward with its planned military operation in northeast Syria in an area where U.S. troops have been deployed and operating with Kurdish-led forces.
The U.S. will not be involved in the operation, the White House said. President Trump spoke with Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan by telephone. U.S. troops will be moved from the area.
“The United States will not hold them for what could be many years and great cost to the United States taxpayer,” the statement read. “Turkey will now be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years in the wake of the territorial “Caliphate” by the United States.”
ERDOGAN THREATENS ACTION
Erdogan said his country has given enough warning and have “acted with enough patience.” Erdogan has expressed frustration with Washington’s support for Kurdish groups in Syria.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said it is committed to the agreement between Turkey and the U.S. to preserve stability in the region.
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“However, we will not hesitate to turn any unprovoked attack by Turkey into an all-out war on the entire border to DEFEND ourselves and our people,” SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted a day earlier.
Many took to social media to criticize the White House’s decision and said the U.S. is essentially abandoning the Kurds.
Turkey views the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has waged an insurgency against Turkey for 35 years.
Ankara and Washington consider the PKK a terror group but they diverge on the issue of the YPG, which forms the core of U.S.-backed Syrian forces against ISIS and is loosely linked with the SDF.
The Associated Press contributed to this report