Wednesday 23 October 2019

White House says Turkey is set to invade Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Photo: Reuters
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Photo: Reuters

Zeke Miller

Turkey will soon invade northern Syria while the United States will remove all of its forces from the area, the White House said.

The move casts uncertainty on the fate of the Kurdish fighters allied with the US in a campaign against Islamic State.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said US troops "will not support or be involved in the operation" and "will no longer be in the immediate area".

Turkey will take custody of foreign fighters captured in the US-led campaign against the Islamic State group who have been held by the Kurdish forces, she added.

Kurdish forces bore the brunt of the ground campaign against Islamic State militants but are considered terrorists by the Turkish government.

In December, US president Trump announced 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-Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, and a coordinated campaign by then-national security adviser John Bolton to try to protect the Kurds.

Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces say they will "not hesitate for a moment" in defending themselves against the Turkish operation.

More to follow

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