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U.S. Forces Face Increased Danger in Syria as Result of Trump’s Withdrawal, Turkish Offensive

As Turkey launches offensive operations into northeastern Syria towards as soon as American-backed Syrian militias, the hazard going through U.S. forces within the area have heightened. This is as a result of all U.S. operations towards the Islamic State militant group in Syria have halted, Newsweek has discovered.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey wrote on Twitter Wednesday his nation’s army in collaboration with the Syrian National Army had launched deliberate army incursions towards U.S.-backed Syrian militias and Islamic State militants. This got here regardless of threats from President Donald Trump of sanctions that may, “totally destroy and obliterate the economy of Turkey.”

Turkey has lengthy thought of the Kurds to be archrivals, likening their Syrian militias to terrorist insurgencies, regardless of the U.S. offering army and monetary assist to the teams in its combat towards ISIS.

But a senior Defense Department official advised Newsweek on Wednesday afternoon that every one U.S. operations towards Islamic State militants have halted in Syria. The order is in accordance with the U.S. handing over duty of operations towards ISIS to Turkey.

“Turkey is now responsible for ensuring all ISIS fighters being held captive remain in prison and that ISIS does not reconstitute in any way, shape, or form,” Trump mentioned in a press release Wednesday. While Trump mentioned the U.S. didn’t endorse the assault, characterizing the Turkish operation as a “bad idea,” the assertion made no point out of the American-backed Kurdish forces.

U.S. Forces Face Increased Danger in Syria as Result of Trump's Withdrawal, Turkish Offensive
A girl walks as smoke billows following Turkish bombardment in Syria’s northeastern city of Ras al-Ain within the Hasakeh province alongside the Turkish border on October 9, 2019. – Turkey launched an assault on Kurdish forces in northern Syria with air strikes and explosions reported alongside the border. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan introduced the beginning of the assault on Twitter, labelling it “Operation Peace Spring.” DELIL SOULEIMAN/Getty

Newsweek reported on Monday that U.S. forces had pulled out of outposts in northern Syria forward of the Turkish army’s incursion, however had not utterly pulled overseas. Among the U.S. service members which were tasked with shifting out of the area are U.S. Special Forces and reconnaissance models.

The senior Defense Department official advised Newsweek that, at the moment, commanders on the bottom don’t concern direct assaults from their Syrian allies however potential insider assaults are of higher concern, particularly amongst Kurdish fighters who really feel betrayed by the United States.

The official mentioned American-backed Kurdish fighters could now be unwilling to reply to U.S. forces needing reinforcements, generally known as a fast response pressure, or accumulate intelligence for U.S. fight models. The official mentioned the present guidelines of engagement for U.S. forces proceed to be centered round self-defense and that no order has been issued by the Pentagon for an entire withdraw from Syria.

The U.S. army is at the moment securing particular Islamic State militants from prisons operated by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces, they mentioned.

U.S. Forces Face Increased Danger in Syria as Result of Trump's Withdrawal, Turkish Offensive
Smoke rises from the Syrian city of Tal Abyad after Turkish bombings, in an image taken from the Turkish facet of the border close to Akcakale within the Sanliurfa province on October 9, 2019. – Turkey launched an assault on Kurdish forces in northern Syria on October 9 with air strikes and artillery hearth reported alongside the border. The Turkish President introduced the beginning of the assault on Twitter, labelling it “Operation Peace Spring”. It triggered criticism from Western nations who’ve allied with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces towards the Islamic State jihadist group. BULENT KILIC/Getty

The senior Defense Department official’s statements, excluding information about ceasing ISIS operations, have been confirmed with a second U.S. army supply within the Syrian area. Both sources have been granted anonymity as a result of they weren’t licensed to talk publicly about present operations. Newsweek has contacted the Defense Department for remark.

Newsweek reported Monday that Trump in a Sunday telephone name with Erdogan didn’t wish to take duty for the roughly 2,000 Islamic State militant prisoners being held by the Syrian Democractic Forces in Syria, who the U.S. army assists financially. The White House mentioned in a press release Sunday that Turkey would take custody of the ISIS militant prisoners.

Trump’s abrupt withdraw of U.S. forces from northern Syria was sharply rebuked by each Republicans and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

“Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump Administration,” wrote Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Wednesday. “The move ensures the reemergence of ISIS.”

On Tuesday, Trump pushed again on the narrative that the U.S. had deserted American-backed Syrian militias on Twitter: “We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters,” citing each monetary assist and weapons provided to Kurdish fighters by the U.S.

The Pentagon additionally pushed again on reporting which prompt Trump didn’t seek the advice of with Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper or Army General Mark A. Milley, the brand new chairman of the joint chiefs of workers, previous to ordering a withdraw of U.S. forces from Syrian-Turkish border.

Newsweek reported Monday that Trump’s withdrawal announcement left Defense Department officers, “completely stunned.” A National Security Council supply with direct data of the discussions between Trump and Erdogan characterised Trump as being “out-negotiated” and having “no spine,” claiming the president solely agreed to endorse an American withdraw from northern Syria to make it seem the U.S. was benefiting ultimately.

The Pentagon rejected these claims.

“Despite continued misreporting to the contrary, Secretary Esper and Chairman Milley were consulted over the last several days by the President regarding the situation and efforts to protect U.S. forces in northern Syria in the face of military action by Turkey,” mentioned chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman in a press release on Tuesday. The Department’s place has been and stays that establishing a secure zone in northern Syria is the perfect path ahead to sustaining stability. Unfortunately, Turkey has chosen to behave unilaterally…We have made no adjustments to our pressure presence in Syria presently.”

U.S. Forces Face Increased Danger in Syria as Result of Trump's Withdrawal, Turkish Offensive
A U.S. Soldier oversees members of the Syrian Democratic Forces as they demolish a YPG fortification and lift a Tal Abyad Military Council flag over the outpost as a part of the safety mechanism zone settlement, Sept. 21, 2019. The U.S. coalition stays centered on attaining the enduring defeat of ISIS. The U.S. is at the moment executing concrete steps to make sure the border space in northeast Syria stays secure and safe. Staff Sgt. Andrew Goedl/U.S. Army

Bradley Bowman, a former advisor to a number of U.S. senators and a former assistant professor on the United States Military Academy at West Point advised Newsweek on Tuesday that U.S. forces on the bottom ought to be the primary, not the final, to find out about a troop withdraw.

“That is the commander-in-chief not performing because the commander-in-chief,” said Bowman. [It’s] evidence of a broken national security process in my view. And to be in these dangerous places as a U.S. military officer, working with people who are carrying weapons, whose trust you need to earn when they start to question whether you’re friend or foe, that is not a nice place for Americans to be. And the president is not making it any easier.”

Bowman is now the senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power on the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington, D.C. assume tank.

“I’m following the news just like you are, but there is also reporting that suggests that large elements of the Pentagon, maybe U.S. Central Command, maybe some of our people on the ground, were surprised by the president’s tweet,” mentioned Bowman. “That is not the first time that has happened. We saw that with General Votel in testimony saying that he was unaware of a presidential announcement that had direct potentially life and death impacts on our troops on the ground.”

In February, then-U.S. Central Command commander, Army General Joseph Votel testified earlier than the Senate Armed Services Committee that he “was not consulted” previous to Trump’s December announcement that American forces would withdraw its troops from Syria.

“I was not aware of the specific announcement. Certainly, we are aware that he had expressed a desire and intent in the past to depart Iraq, depart Syria,” mentioned Votel. The basic retired in March after the Battle of Baghuz Fawqani—a decisive engagement ensuing within the collapse of the remaining territory managed by the Islamic State in Syria.

The National Security Council official Newsweek spoke to on Monday is worried that these features might shortly be misplaced.

“The ISIS prisoners, some of them, will eventually be freed amongst the chaos, and remain in the area or go elsewhere to rejoin the fight,” they mentioned.

Trump’s December announcement prompted then-Defense Secretary James Mattis, to resign his put up. Mattis was the final of the generals touted because the “adults” within the administration—and was an outspoken opponent of a Syrian withdrawal.

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