US troops begin withdrawal from northern Syria

TAL ABYAD, Syria/ANKARA, Turkey 

U.S. troops began to retreat from various points in northern Syria where an imminent Turkish operation is expected against terror groups in the area.

The U.S. on Sunday ruled out any assistance or involvement in Turkey’s planned operation east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria.

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

“The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS [Daesh] territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area,” said the statement, using an alternate name for the terror group Daesh.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday confirmed the beginning of the U.S. withdrawal, which started off in the Tal Abyad and Rasulayn areas.

“After our conversation yesterday [Sunday] evening, as Mr. President [Donald Trump] stated, the retreat has begun,” Erdogan told reporters at Ankara’s Esenboga International Airport before his departure for a two-day visit to Serbia.

The U.S. first became involved in the Syrian conflict in September 2014, launching airstrikes against Daesh and using YPG/PKK terrorist organization against the increasing Daesh threat.

At that time, the YPG/PKK — with the supported of U.S. airstrikes — invaded Kobane in January 2015 and Tal Abyad in June 2015 by eliminating Daesh.

Despite all warnings from Ankara, the U.S. army facilitated the growth and spread of the YPG/PKK with all means and the terror group reached the west of Euphrates River at the end of 2015.

During that time, the U.S. built an airbase in the Rimelan district of Al-Hasakah city beginning military shipments from Iraq in April 2016.

With the aid of thousands of armored vehicles, weapons, anti-tank guns and ammunition, the YPG/PKK invaded one third of Syria over two years while the U.S. built airbases in these invaded regions.

The U.S., which built 18 military bases in the Al-Hasakah, Deir ez-Zor, Raqqa, Manbij and Tal Abyad regions, also deployed about 2,000 soldiers and continued to build bases after clearing the majority of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor of Daesh terrorists.

Despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement last year that he wanted to withdraw troops from Syria, Washington continued with its military presence in the country.

Since 2016, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for Syrians who fled the violence to return home.

Turkey has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, pledging military action to prevent the formation of a “terrorist corridor” there.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. YPG is the Syrian branch of the terrorist organization PKK.

Writing by Burak Bir
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