Pentagon in contact with Trump on Turkey’s Syria op


U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was in contact with President Donald Trump regarding Turkey’s planned operation in northern Syria, a Pentagon official said Monday.

Esper was also in touch with State Secretary Mike Pompeo, new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley, and National Security Advisor Robert O’rien, the official told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity.

“U.S. does not endorse Turkish action. The secretary of defense will be in touch with affected allies, partners and [Capitol] Hill today,” said the official.

He also said the U.S. pulled troops in the security mechanism area between Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn in the north.

Earlier, Trump said U.S. would withdraw troops from Syria, amid Turkey’s plans to carry out an operation for a safe zone in the country’s north.

“WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN. Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out, and what they want to do with the captured ISIS fighters in their ‘neighborhood’,” Trump tweeted.

The U.S. president said YPG terrorists in Syria, “were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to” fight with the U.S., in apparent criticism of the policies of former U.S. administrations.

In a statement late Sunday, the White House said Turkey will soon carry out its “long-planned operation” into northern Syria.

Senator Lindsey Graham took to Fox News to voice his criticism Monday, saying a U.S. withdrawal from northeast Syria and ensuing conflict would “lead to ISIS’ re-emergence.”

In a separate statement, the Pentagon said it consistently stressed coordination and cooperation were the best paths toward security in the area during talks with the Turkish military.

“Secretary Esper and Chairman Milley reiterated to their respective Turkish counterparts that unilateral action creates risks for Turkey,” it said.

The Pentagon said the U.S. will work with other NATO allies and the anti-Daesh coalition partners to reiterate to Turkey “the possible destabilizing consequences of potential actions to Turkey, the region, and beyond.”

*Servet Gunerigok contributed to the story
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