The Department of Defense issued a clarifying statement Monday in response to the recent White House decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria, explaining “that we do not endorse a Turkish operation in northern Syria.”
“In conversations between DOD & the Turkish military we’ve consistently stressed coordination and cooperation were the best path toward security in the area,” Pentagon Press Secretary Alyssa Farah said in a statement.
The statement also attempted to clarify the objective of the move, stating “Turkey would be responsible, along with European nations & others, for thousands of ISIS fighters who had been captured and defeated in the campaign lead by the United States.”
The White House issued a statement Sunday evening announcing a withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria, ahead of an expected Turkish invasion intended to carve out a 20-mile deep “safe zone” in Syria in order to resettle Syrian refugees. On Monday, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the military operation “could come at any moment.”
President Trump has claimed in tweets defending the decision that the U.S. has reclaimed 100 percent ISIS’s territorial holdings and now must rely on Turkey and other European countries to “watch over the captured ISIS fighters and their families.”
The area is also territory controlled by the Kurds, who have warned that Turkey’s intention is to remake the demographic composition of the region by flooding it with Sunni Muslims, weakening the Kurds’ regional foothold.
“We will work with our other NATO allies and Coalition partners to reiterate to Turkey the possible destabilizing consequences of potential actions to Turkey, the region, and beyond,” the Pentagon’s statement closes. According to sources, the Pentagon was ‘completely blindsided’ by Trump’s order to pull back U.S. forces.