Trump claims Syria withdrawal was ‘strategically brilliant’


Donald Trump mentioned his withdrawal of US troops from north-east Syria had created a “strategically brilliant” final result, as Mike Pence, vice-president, ready to fly to Ankara to influence Turkey to halt its army incursion into Syria.

Mr Trump’s feedback got here as Turkey continued the army operation it launched every week in the past, simply days after the US president appeared to present his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a inexperienced mild to launch a marketing campaign towards Kurdish forces who had been serving to the US struggle Isis.

“I view the situation on the Turkish border with Syria to be, for the United States, strategically brilliant. Our soldiers are out of there. Our soldiers are totally safe,” Mr Trump mentioned, as he welcomed Sergio Mattarella, Italian president, to the White House on Wednesday.

Do folks need us to start out taking pictures at a Nato member? That can be a primary

The White House has spent the previous week making an attempt to restore the harm Mr Trump has performed, because the president got here below widespread home criticism from Democrats and Republicans who consider that he has made one of many largest international coverage blunders of his presidency.

US officers have argued that Turkey, a fellow member of the Nato army alliance, was intent on the operation towards Kurdish forces in Syria, which it views as terrorists, and was not conscious of US stress. They have argued that Mr Trump took a prudent choice to take away US troops to make sure they might not be caught within the battle in north-east Syria.

“Do people want us to start shooting at a Nato member? That would be a first,” Mr Trump mentioned from the Oval Office.

Mr Pence will depart Washington on Wednesday night as the top of a high-level delegation to Ankara in a bid to influence Mr Erdogan to agree a ceasefire. He might be joined by Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, and Robert O’Brien, the US nationwide safety adviser, who was set to reach in Turkey on Wednesday.

“We need them to stand down, we need a ceasefire, at which point we can begin to put this all back together again,” Mr Pompeo instructed Fox News.

Mr Pompeo confused that the US had put sanctions on Turkish officers this week in an effort to persuade Mr Erdogan to reverse course, however mentioned the US wished to protect relations with Ankara.

“Our goal here isn’t to break the relationship with Turkey,” Mr Pompeo instructed the tv community. “Our goal . . . is to deny Turkey the capacity to continue to engage in this behaviour.”

US army officers have expressed frustration on the transfer by Mr Trump, which consultants warn might undo efforts to defeat Isis.

Republicans have additionally been essential of the president for abandoning the Kurdish forces in Syria who’ve taken enormous casualties lately main the marketing campaign towards Isis jihadis.

On Wednesday, Mr Trump mentioned Syria was now defending the Kurds — in a recognition that Kurdish fighters had been pressured to create an alliance with Damascus after they had been deserted by the US.

“Syria is protecting the Kurds. That is good,” Mr Trump mentioned, earlier than later including that the Kurds “were not angels” — a remark that’s prone to spark condemnation from Republicans.

Mr Erdogan mentioned on Wednesday that Turkish forces and the Syrian rebels preventing alongside them had “cleansed” 1,220 sq. km of north-east Syria of the Kurdish militias that they’re focusing on, with the acknowledged purpose of clearing territory round 12 occasions that measurement. But that effort has been sophisticated not solely by US stress but additionally the Kurdish teams’ cope with Damascus.

The settlement has seen regime troops — accompanied by their Russian backers — fill the vacuum left by the departure of US troops as they’ve moved to determine a presence in a number of border cities.

So far the memorandum of understanding between the Syrian Democratic Forces and the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, solely covers areas the place Syrian military troops will deploy to push back additional Turkish advances. But analysts and diplomats say the return of regime forces to north-east Syria, the place Kurdish politicians had carved out a self-administered enclave referred to as Rojava, paves the best way for the Assad regime to reimpose management over virtually a 3rd of the nation.

The week of preventing has killed greater than 70 civilians, and a whole bunch of 1000’s of individuals have fled for security.

The ongoing violence and regime’s return has additionally sophisticated assist deliveries wanted to assist the injured, homeless and folks dwelling in displacement camps. Many worldwide humanitarian organisations have traditionally been unable to work in regime territories.

Made Ferguson, Mercy Corps’ deputy Syria nation director, described the state of affairs as “our nightmare scenario”.

Clashes continued between Kurdish forces and Turkey’s Syrian proxies — extremist militias who’re against the Syrian regime. For the primary time in seven years, Syrian troops have arrived in main northern cities together with Manbij, which lies west of the Euphrates and has been a flashpoint of competitors for management of northern areas, and town of Kobani, the place Kurdish fighters waged a number of the fiercest battles with Isis jihadis.

Follow Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter: @dimi


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