Trump Tweet Storm–U.S. Getting Out of ‘Ridiculous Endless Wars’

Trump in Syria Tweet Storm: U.S. Getting Out of ‘Ridiculous Endless Wars’

U.S. troops start pullout from along Turkey’s border in Syria

Syria’s Kurds accused the U.S. of turning its back on its allies and risking gains made in the fight against the Islamic State group as American troops began pulling back on Monday from positions in northeastern Syria ahead of an expected Turkish assault.

Syrian Kurdish fighters warned that Washington’s abrupt decision to stand aside — announced by the White House late Sunday — will overturn years of achievements in the battle against ISIS militants. In a strongly-worded statement, they accused Washington of failing to abide by its commitments to its key allies.

Trump tweeted on Monday, “WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN. Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out.” In the series of tweets, Trump also blamed his European allies for treating the U.S. as “suckers” for not taking ISIS prisoners.

….including capturing thousands of ISIS fighters, mostly from Europe. But Europe did not want them back, they said you keep them USA! I said “NO, we did you a great favor and now you want us to hold them in U.S. prisons at tremendous cost. They are yours for trials.” They…..

Read more: Defying Pentagon, Trump backs Turkish operation in Syria targeting U.S.-backed Kurds | Trump slammed for allowing Turkey to attack Kurdish allies in Syria 

There was no immediate confirmation from the White House of U.S. troops clearing positions in areas in northern Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, also said American troops have started pulling back, and a video posted by a Kurdish news agency showed a convoy of American armored vehicles apparently heading away from the border area of Tal Abyad.

Erdogan spoke hours after the White House said U.S. forces in northeastern Syria will move aside and clear the way for an expected Turkish assault — raising concerns about the fate of Kurdish fighters who fought alongside American forces in the yearslong battle to defeat the Islamic State group.

“Following our conversation last night (with Trump), the withdrawal has started as expressed by the president,” the Turkish leader said.

Erdogan did not elaborate on the planned Turkish incursion but said Turkey was determined to halt what it perceives as threats from the Syrian Kurdish fighters.

The White House, in a statement that was silent on the fate of Kurds, said U.S. troops “will not support or be involved in the operation” and “will no longer be in the immediate area,” in northern Syria.

There are about 1,000 U.S. troops in northern Syria, and a senior U.S. official said they will pull back from the area — and potentially depart the country entirely, should widespread fighting break out between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

The White House statement on Sunday also said Turkey will take custody of foreign fighters captured in the U.S.-led campaign against IS who have been held by the Kurdish forces.

The Kurds have custody of thousands of captured Islamic State militants. They include about 2,500 highly dangerous foreign fighters from Europe and elsewhere — their native countries have been reluctant to take them back — and about 10,000 captured fighters from Syria and Iraq.

Kurdish officials have expressed concerns of a possible breakout by IS prisoners in case of fighting in the area.

Asked about the White House comments, Erdogan said that both Turkey and the U.S. were working separately to see “what steps can be taken” so that foreign fighters in prison can be repatriated.

“This is being worked on,” he said.

Erdogan has threatened for months to launch the military operation across the border. He views the Syria Kurdish forces as terrorists and a threat to his country as Ankara has struggled with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.

In the U.S., Republicans and Democrats have warned that allowing the Turkish attack could lead to a massacre of the Kurds and send a troubling message to American allies across the globe.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, as the Kurdish-led force is known, said the American pullout began first from areas along the Syria-Turkey border. The Syrian Kurdish Hawar news agency and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also say American troops were evacuating positions near the towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad on Monday.

“The American forces did not abide by their commitments and withdrew their forces along the border with Turkey,” the SDF said in its statement. “The Turkish military operation in northern and eastern Syria will have a huge negative effect on our war against” IS, it added.

Mustafa Bali, the SDF spokesman, tweeted that his group is not expecting the U.S. to protect northeastern Syria. “But people here are owed an explanation regarding the security mechanism deal and destruction of fortifications,” he said.

In an agreement between Ankara and Washington, joint U.S and Turkish aerial and ground patrols had started in a security zone that covers over 125 kilometers (78 miles) along the Turkey-Syria border between the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn. The SDF had removed fortification from the areas, considered a threat by Turkey, and withdrawn with heavy weapons.

But Turkey and the U.S. have disagreed over the depth of the zone, with Ankara seeking to also have its troops monitor a stretch of territory between 30 and 40 kilometers deep (19 to 25 miles). Erdogan has continued to threaten an attack.

The Kurdish-led fighters have been the main U.S.-backed force in Syria in the fight against IS and in March, the group captured the last sliver of land held by the extremists, marking the end of the so-called caliphate that was declared by IS’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014.

“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 IS in Syria.

It said IS sleeper cells are already plotting to break free some 12,000 militants detained by Syrian Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria.

The Kurdish fighters also control the al-Hol camp, home to more than 70,000 people, including at least 9,000 foreigners, mostly wives and children of IS fighters.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted that Ankara is determined to ensure the survival and security of Turkey “by clearing the region from terrorists. We will contribute to peace, peace and stability in Syria.”

In Major Syrian Reversal, Trump Hands Erdogan the Keys To Northern Syria

[Trump Endorses Turkish Military Operation in Syria, Shifting U.S. Policy]

Syria Kurds slam US withdrawal, vow to defend Rojava ‘at all costs’

Fazel Hawramy

The pledge comes hours after US President Donald Trump gave his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan the greenlight to launch an air and ground operation east of the Euphrates River – controlled by the US-backed SDF.

Related: Trump greenlights Turkish operation in northeast Syria

Mustafa Bali, a senior SDF official, accused US forces of failing to fulfil their responsibilities as allies in the war against the Islamic State group (ISIS), “leaving the area to turn into a war zone”.

The SDF was the main coalition partner in the ground war against ISIS, responsible for retaking the de facto ISIS capital of Raqqa in 2017 and the last ISIS holdout of Baghouz in March this year. The SDF lost more than 10,000 fighters.

“The SDF is determined to defend NE Syria at all costs,” Bali said.

“US forces on the ground showed us that this is not how they value friendship & alliance. However, the decision by the @POTUS is about to ruin the trust and cooperation between the SDF and US built during the fight against ISIS. Alliances are built on mutual trust,” Bali tweeted.

“We are not expecting the US to protect NE #Syria. But people here are owed an explanation regarding security mechanism deal, destruction of fortifications and failure of US to fulfill their commitments.”

In an English-language press statement released on Monday, the SDF said: “Despite all the efforts we did to avoid conflict, our commitment to the security mechanism agreement and taking necessary steps on our end, the US forces did not carry out their responsibilities and have withdrawn from border areas with Turkey.”

“Turkey’s unprovoked attack on our areas will have a negative impact on our fight against ISIS and the stability and peace we have created in the region in the recent years. As the Syrian Democratic Forces, we are determined to defend our land at all costs. We call on our Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian, and Syriac people to strengthen their unity and stand by the SDF in defense of their land,” the statement added.

Kurdish forces had agreed to dismantle their land defenses along the border after Washington and Ankara agreed to set up a so-called ‘safe zone’.

Erdogan had lobbied to create a 32 kilometer-deep buffer zone, where he hoped to resettle up to three million Syrian refugees currently hosted by Turkey. The Kurds have resisted the idea, calling for a shallower zone and for the resettlement to be limited only to those native to the region.

The SDF did however agree to move their defensive positions nine to 15 kilometers from the border.

Now that the SDF has lost its defensive assets along the border, resentment toward the US is running high.

“The [White House] statement tonight on Syria after Trump spoke with Erdogan demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of anything happening on the ground. The ‘United States’ is not holding any ISIS detainees. They are all being held by the SDF, which Trump just served up to Turkey,” tweeted Brett McGurk, the former special presidential envoy to the global coalition to defeat ISIS.

The White House statement issued late on Sunday indicates Turkey will be placed in charge of ISIS prisoners and that American force will stand aside to allow the Turkish operation to take place.

“Turkey will now be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years in the wake of the defeat of the territorial caliphate by the United States,” the office of the White House Press Secretary said.

“The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS (Islamic State) territorial “Caliphate,” will no longer be in the immediate area.

The SDF affiliated news agency Hawarnews published a video of American forces withdrawing from the border area.

Ibrahim Kalin, the Turkish presidential spokesperson, tweeted that the invasion of northeast Syria would serve two purposes – to eliminate members of the “terrorist group”, referring to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), and clear a safe border area that would allow safe return of Syrian refugees.

“Turkey supports Syria’s territorial integrity and political unity. Has no interest in occupation or changing demographics. The PKK/YPG did that to northeast Syria. Time to correct it. Turkey fights against a terrorist organization that has also killed and oppressed the Kurds,” he added.