The Wall Street Journal reports American Troops to Withdraw From Northern Syria Ahead of Turkish Incursion.
The White House indicated that U.S. forces will withdraw from northern Syria in advance of an expected incursion of Turkish forces in the region that could spark fighting with American-backed Kurds, in what officials believe could be the end of the fight against Islamic State there.
Turkey’s incursion might mean the complete withdrawal of American forces from Syria, a U.S. official said early Monday. Last year, Mr. Trump called for a complete U.S. withdrawal from Syria, but ultimately reversed himself after a backlash from GOP allies and top military officials.
Sunday night’s announcement came as U.S. officials have grown concerned that Turkey would mount a military incursion into northern Syria and set off a battle with Kurdish fighters known as the YPG, a group Turkey considers to be a terrorist affiliate of the Turkey-based PKK. The U.S. considers the Kurds allies in destroying Islamic State’s territorial hold in Syria.
Mr. Erdogan expressed “his frustration over the U.S. military and security bureaucracy’s failure to implement the agreement between their two nations,” and added that “the two leaders agreed to meet in Washington next month, per President Trump’s invitation.” The White House readout didn’t mention the prospective meeting, nor did it refer to the fate of the Kurds.
If Turkey conducts a widespread incursion using heavy arms and forces, the U.S. might have no choice but to pull its more than 1,000 troops out of Syria to avoid a potential conflict with a North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally, officials have said. U.S. officials said they harbor deep misgivings about withdrawing troops from the area and leaving their close Kurdish allies to an uncertain fate.
It remained unclear late Sunday what Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria would mean for the thousands of soldiers captured during the fight against Islamic State. The U.S. official said there was no formal agreement with Turkey over custody of the fighters, but if Turkey was to mount a major incursion, the problem would be all theirs, the official said.
There are nearly 2,000 foreign fighters being held in a handful of detention facilities in northern Syria by the SDF; another 10,000 Syrian and Iraqi fighters are being held there. Tens of thousands of family members—as many as 80,000—are also living in special camps set up for them, officials said. During the fight with Islamic State, the fighters were detained, mostly by members of the SDF.
Understanding the Convoluted Mess
- The US is in Syria to fight ISIS. ISIS is a direct result of the US invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
- The Kurds are the only US ally in Syria.
- Turkey, an alleged US NATO ally, is poised to invade Syria to eliminate the Kurds.
- Iran and Turkey have a peaceful relationship and are major trading partners.
- Trump's sanctions on Iran harm Turkey.
- Turkey recently unleashed a new flood of refugees into Greece with more to come. Last month, the Greek website ekathimerini reported Erdogan Threatens to Flood Europe with Some 5.5 Million Refugees.
- Turkey is holding the refugees in return for a bribe payment from the EU initiated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
- Erdogan wants more money from the EU and for the US to get out of Syria so that it can attack the Kurds.
- Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait and Iraq are allies of Iran.
- The US invaded Iraq in the first US-Iraq war to support Kuwait.
- Saudi Arabia, Jordan and United Arab Emirates back the US against Iran.
- To the ire of Trump, Turkey recently purchased an S-400 air defense system from Russia and cooperates with Moscow in Syria.
Incirlik Air Base
For icing on the mess, 50 of America's nuclear weapons are stationed at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, just 70 miles from the Syrian border.
What can possibly go wrong?
Mike "Mish" Shedlock