Defying Pentagon, Trump Backs Turkish Operation in Syria Targeting U.S.-backed Kurds 

U.S.-backed militia says American forces failed to meet their commitments, as Washington informs Kurds it wouldn’t protect them against imminent Turkish incursion into northeastern Syria to ‘clear terrorist elements’ReutersThe Associated Press and Haaretz  Oct 07, 2019 2:37 PM  6comments    Zen Subscribe now

Erdogan and Trump during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019
Erdogan and Trump during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019Pool Presidential Press Service 

American troops began withdrawing Monday from their positions along Turkey’s border in northeastern Syria, in a major shift in U.S. policy harshly criticized by its Kurdish allies, which came despite Pentagon officials’ support for maintaining American presence in the region.

The partial pullout comes ahead of an anticipated Turkish invasion, which U.S. President Donald Trump endorsed in a Sunday phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and that U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces say will overturn five years of achievements in the battle against the Islamic State group.

“Despite our efforts to avoid any military escalation with Turkey and the flexibility we have shown to move forward in establishing a mechanism for the security of the borders …, the American forces did not fulfill their commitments and withdrew their forces from the border areas with Turkey,” U.S-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which controls most of the area, said in a statement.

“We will not hesitate for a moment in defending our people” against Turkish troops, the Syrian Kurdish force said, adding that it has lost 11,000 fighters in the war against ISIS in Syria.

“There were assurances from the United States of America that it would not allow any Turkish military operations against the region,” SDF spokesman Kino Gabriel said in an interview with al-Hadath TV on Monday.

The SDF had been “completely committed” to a U.S.-guaranteed deal for a “security mechanism” for the border area, he added. “But the (U.S.) statement today was a surprise and we can say that it is a stab in the back for the SDF,” he said.

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