President Donald Trump has defended a plan to remove US troops from northern Syria, despite a Republican party break Monday.
Turkish forces launched a military offensive in the Kurdish-controlled parts of Syria on Wednesday, just days after President Donald Trump announced that he was withdrawing US troops in the region – a move that has left Kurds, longtime US allies. , vulnerable to Turkish operation.
"The Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army, have just launched #OperationPeaceSpring" against Kurdish fighters in Syria, announced Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish President on Twitter.
"Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terrorist corridor on our southern border and bring peace to the region," he said of Turkey's long-planned attack on the Kurds, who were the main US ally in Syria against the state terrorist. Islamic. group, also known as ISIS.
The move defies international criticism and just days after President Donald Trump announced that US troops supporting Kurdish forces in the area would be withdrawn from the border zone.
US lawmakers vowed to retaliate against Turkey and urged Trump to reconsider its decision to withdraw US forces from the region.
"Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been blatantly abandoned by the Trump government," Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Usually a fervent defender of Trump, tweeted amid news of the Turkish attack.
"It will lead efforts in Congress to make Erdogan pay a very high price," Said graham. "I ask President Trump to change course while there is still time …"
Trump defended his decision on Wednesday and called Turkey's attack a "bad idea".
"The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea," the president said in a statement on Wednesday. But, he added, "from the first day I entered the political arena, I made it clear that I did not want to wage these endless and meaningless wars – especially those that do not benefit the United States."
Trump said his government will continue to monitor the situation closely.
"Turkey is committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring that no humanitarian crises occur – and we will keep them with that commitment," the president said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went further, advocating Turkey's foray into Syria.
"The Turks had a legitimate security concern," Pompeo said in an interview on Wednesday with PBS NewsHour. "They have a terrorist threat to the south." He said the Trump administration has been trying to secure Turkey's protection, as well as working with the Kurds to defeat ISIS.
Turkish warplanes began bombing parts of northeastern Syria, according to a spokesman for Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.
Although Kurdish fighters have been a vital US ally in the fight against ISIS, Turkey sees them as terrorists.
The White House said Erdogan told Trump about his plans to proceed with a military incursion into Syria during a phone call on Sunday night. Trump administration officials defended the decision to remove US troops from that region, saying the president did not want US forces to be in the line of fire. But critics say Trump's decision essentially gave the green light to Turkey's attack.
"The next few weeks will be slowly wrecked by trains as US policy remains divorced from any achievable goal … under a president who wants to leave completely," said Brett McGurk, Trump's envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition before resigning for last time. year, posted on Twitter.
"The belief that we can now curb Turkey's ambition in a small area is illusory," he said. "The cat has no bag."
Turkish government spokesman Fahrettin Altun said Turkey was seeking to "neutralize" Syrian Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria and "free the local population from the yoke of armed bandits." He made these comments in a editorial at The Washington Post.
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Syrian Kurds partner with US-led coalition forces in northeastern Syria, fighting the Islamic State group for nearly four years. But Turkey considers some of them militants linked to forbidden Kurdish rebels in Turkey, which has been waging a terror campaign for years to secure its autonomy from Ankara.
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Trump threatened to punish Turkey economically if he did "something out of what we think is human." However, Democratic and Republican lawmakers have condemned Trump's actions, arguing that this not only poses a threat to a major US ally, but also endangers the campaign against the Islamic State group.
Syrian Kurds also run detention centers in the region, which hold thousands of former Islamic State militants and their families.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) General Command – the group that works with US troops – said the border areas of northeastern Syria "are on the brink of a possible humanitarian catastrophe … This attack shed the blood of thousands of innocent civilians because our border areas are overcrowded. "
The SDF said at least two civilian casualties had already been caused by Turkish warplanes bombing parts of northeastern Syria. Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the forces, said "there is huge panic among the people of the region."
It is unclear what, if anything, Congress will do to address the coming crisis.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., A member of the Republican Party leadership, also called for action in Congress. She said Trump's decision "paves the way for ISIS's resurgence" and pointed to ISIS attacks on Tuesday in Raqqa, the group's former fortress in Syria.
"President Trump's decision to withdraw US forces from northern Syria is having disgusting and predictable consequences. Turkey is invading Syria in coordination with Russian-backed forces, ISIS terrorists are launching raids on Raqqa and thousands of Iraqi fighters. ISIS are waiting for a makeshift time. Prisons. "
Graham and Senator Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Are working on legislation to punish Turkey for the Syrian invasion and call for Turkey to be suspended from NATO. But lawmakers are in recess this week, and when they return on October 15, the military confrontation is likely to spiral.
So far, Trump has kept his decision.
"The United States has spent EIGHT trillions of dollars fighting and policing in the Middle East. Thousands of our great soldiers have died or been seriously injured. Millions of people have died on the other side. Entering the Middle East is the worst decision ever made," he tweeted. Wednesday.
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