In a move that reportedly took U.S. military commanders by surprise and alarmed even some of his supporters, President Donald Trump on Sunday announced American troops in northeast Syria would be pulling out to allow room for a Turkish military operation.
In an appearance on “Fox & Friends” on Monday, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, called the move an “impulsive decision” that will help terrorist in the Islamic State group gain a “second lease on life,” according to Fox News.
In a Twitter post Monday, Graham was even more pessimistic.
“If press reports are accurate this is a disaster in the making,” he wrote.
I don’t know all the details regarding President Trump’s decision in northern Syria. In process of setting up phone call with Secretary Pompeo.
If press reports are accurate this is a disaster in the making.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 7, 2019
According to Fox, unnamed U.S. officials said Pentagon commanders were “completely blindsided” by the order to move hundreds of American troops out of the area to make way for Turkish forces, which have been battling Kurds in the region.
The Kurds have been fighting alongside Americans against the Islamic State group.
In a series of Twitter posts Monday morning, Trump defended the decision, saying it was necessary to “get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home. WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN,” he wrote.
The United States was supposed to be in Syria for 30 days, that was many years ago. We stayed and got deeper and deeper into battle with no aim in sight. When I arrived in Washington, ISIS was running rampant in the area. We quickly defeated 100% of the ISIS Caliphate,…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2019
“Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out, and what they want to do with captured ISIS fighters in their ‘neighborhood.’ They all hate ISIS, have been enemies for years. We are 7000 miles away and will crush ISIS again if they come anywhere near us!”
A statement released by the White House on Sunday indicated Turkey would be taking over security responsibilities in northern Syria.
“Today, President Donald J. Trump spoke with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey by telephone,” the statement said. “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation in northern Syria. The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and the United States armed forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”
As for Kurdish forces, Trump’s Twitter thread acknowledged their role but made it clear the decision was made.
“The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. They have been fighting Turkey for decades,” he wrote.
U.S. officials quoted by Fox without their names said the move is going to be disastrous for the Kurds.
“No one will ever partner with us again,” one commander said.
The source, described as a senior military officer, said the Turks’ intentions toward the Kurds was no secret:
“They are going to slaughter those cats,” he said.
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