The White House said Sunday that Turkey will soon invade northern Syria, renewing fears of a slaughter of Kurdish fighters allied with the U.S. in a years-long campaign against the Islamic State group.
For months, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been threatening to launch a military assault on the Kurdish forces in northern Syria, many of whom his government considers terrorists. The Kurdish forces bore the brunt of the U.S.-led campaign against Islamic State militants, and Republicans and Democrats have warned that allowing the Turkish attack would send a troubling message to American allies across the globe.
U.S. troops “will not support or be involved in the operation” and “will no longer be in the immediate area,” in northern Syria, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an unusual late-Sunday statement that was silent on the fate of the Kurds.
It was not clear whether that meant the U.S. would be withdrawing its 1,000 or so troops completely from northern Syria.
The announcement came after a call between President Trump and Erdogan, the White House said.
In December, Trump announced that he was withdrawing American troops from Syria but was met with widespread condemnation for abandoning Kurdish allies to the Turkish assault. The announcement prompted the resignation in protest of then-Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, and a coordinated effort by then-national security advisor John Bolton to try to protect the Kurds.
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