Turkish Troops Begin Crossing Into Syria After U.S. Stands Aside
Turkish Troops Begin Crossing Into Syria After U.S. Stands Aside
READ MORE:UN'preparing for the worst from Turkey's Syria operation as US withdraws troops
09 October, 2019, 16:03
USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters pose for a photo in Baghouz, Syria, after the Kurdish-led SDF declared the area free of Islamic State militants on March 23, 2019.
The first Turkish troops have crossed into northeastern Syria in preparation for a full-scale offensive to force back Kurdish militants controlling the border area, a Turkish official said, days after President Donald Trump said the US wouldn't stand in the way.
Yet, despite the social media diplomacy, US military officials said they expect a Turkish incursion is still likely and confirmed that they have repositioned about 50 USA special forces members, who had been operating along the Turkey-Syria border, out of harm's way.
"The Turkish military, together with the Free Syrian Army [FSA], will cross the Turkish-Syrian border shortly", Fahrettin Altun said in a Washington Post column published on Wednesday.
In a follow-up post, he added that going into the USA military involvement in the Middle East was "the worst decision ever made in the history" of the country.
Turkey has been poised to advance into northeast Syria since U.S. troops began vacating the area in an abrupt policy shift by U.S. President Donald Trump widely criticised in Washington as a betrayal of America's Kurdish militia allies.
It could also be seen as Trump being Trump. But the U.S. backs the YPG and credits the Kurds for helping defeat ISIS in Syria.
"This is a very risky game", Lavrov said.
President Donald Trump has dismissed the idea that the United States would leave the Kurds - who he called "special people and wonderful fighters" - to a grisly fate, warning North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partner Turkey of "economic devastation" if their upcoming incursion led to any "unnecessary fighting". "So, we've chose to start an operation against them", Cavusoglu said.
"The U.S. military should be quickly withdrawn from Syria - in fact, it should have entirely left already", says Benjamin Friedman, policy director for Defense Priorities, a Washington group that argues for a strong defense posture that avoids U.S. entanglement in foreign conflicts.
Trump's decision to pull back troops has rattled allies, including France and Britain, two of Washington's main partners in the US -led coalition fighting Islamic State.
Trump's decision to withdraw troops from northeast Syria has rattled allies, including France, one of Washington's main partners in the USA -led coalition fighting Islamic State.
Signaling a further potential shift in the region's power balance, the Kurdish-led forces said they might start talks with the Syrian government and Russian Federation to fill a security vacuum in the event of a full US withdrawal.
Trump has faced a barrage of criticism from within his own party, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen.
A number of Trump allies, including Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, said the move was "a shot in the arm for the bad guys".
Kurdish-led forces denounced the USA policy shift as a "stab in the back".
The Euphrates Shield Operation, launched in July 2014 inside Syrian territory, was not only aimed at fighting ISIS but also the YPG.
Also Wednesday, Iranian state television reported a surprise military drill with special operations forces near the country's border with Turkey, in Iran's Western Azerbaijan province. Others made victory signs.
The Kurdish-led forces have denounced the major US policy shift as a "stab in the back".
"This is one of the main fears of the Turkish Government and the Turkish society", Syria analyst Ömer Özkizilcik said.
Still, even though he supports the president's efforts to end the USA military presence in Syria, Mr. Friedman says he deplores both the impulsive nature of Sunday's decision as well as the broader chaotic national security decision-making process behind it. Erdogan has chastised Washington for backing the Kurds, but he only pushed ahead with the operation after Trump reversed years of US policy.
In June this year, two of the air force's Eurofighter jets crashed after colliding in mid-air in northeastern Germany. The pilot was able to eject out of the aircraft in time and was taken to hospital suffering minor injuries.
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