WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump punched again Friday at criticism that his Syria withdrawal is damaging U.S. credibility, betraying Kurdish allies and opening the door for a potential resurgence of the Islamic State.
He touted a cease-fire settlement that appeared in danger as Turkey and Kurdish fighters differed over what it required and whether or not fight had halted.
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“We’ve had tremendous success I think over the last couple of days,” Trump declared. He added that “we’ve taken control of the oil in the Middle East” — a declare that appeared disconnected from any recognized improvement there.
He made the assertion twice Friday, however different U.S. officers have been unable to clarify what he meant.
Calling his Syria method “a little bit unconventional,” the president contended that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in addition to the Syrian Kurdish fighters the Turks are battling agree that the U.S.-brokered case-fire was the best step and have been complying with it.
“There is good will on both sides & a really good chance for success,” he wrote on Twitter.
That optimism appeared at odds with Erdogan’s personal phrases. He advised reporters in Istanbul that Turkish forces would resume their offensive in 4 days except Kurdish-led fighters withdraw “without exception” from a so-called protected zone 20 miles (30 kilometres) deep in Syria operating your entire 260-mile (440-kilometre) size of the border with Turkey.
Trump says battle in Syria might have ‘gone on for longer’
There was no signal of any pullout by the Kurdish-led forces, who accused Turkey of violating the cease-fire with continued combating at a key border city.
Additionally they stated the accord covers a a lot smaller part of the border. And a few fighters have vowed to not withdraw in any respect, dismissing the deal as a betrayal by the U.S., whose troopers they’ve fought alongside towards the IS.
Eric Edelman, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey who served because the Pentagon’s high coverage official through the George W. Bush administration, stated he doubts Turkey and its Syrian proxies might management your entire border space from the Euphrates to Iraq with out assist from Russia or others.
“That’s a very big expanse of territory to hold, albeit a lot of it is uninhabited,” Edelman stated. “That probably means they’ve cut already some deal with the Russians and the Iranians.”
Even so, Trump insisted peace was at hand.
Trump says ceasefire in Syria is a ‘great day for civilization’
“There is a cease-fire or a pause or whatever you want to call it,” he stated. “There was some sniper fire this morning,” in addition to mortar fireplace, however that was shortly halted and the realm had returned to a “full pause,” he stated.
Trump additionally asserted that some European nations are actually prepared to take accountability for detained IS fighters who’re from their international locations.
“Anyway, big progress being made!!!!” he exclaimed on Twitter.
Trump stated nothing additional in regards to the European nations he now contends have agreed to take a number of the IS fighters, a requirement he has repeated typically. No European authorities introduced an intent to take management of IS prisoners.
Talking in Brussels after briefing NATO ambassadors on the Syria scenario, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated, “We’ve seen comments today from a number of countries who said they may well be prepared to take back these fighters.” He, too, recognized no such international locations.
On the Pentagon, Defence Secretary Mark Esper stated U.S. troops are persevering with their withdrawal from northern Syria. He additionally stated no U.S. floor troops will take part in imposing or monitoring the cease-fire.
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“The force protection of our service members remains our top priority and, as always, U.S. forces will defend themselves from any threat as we complete our withdrawal from the area,” Esper advised reporters.
One essential unknown within the wake of Turkey’s navy incursion, which started Oct. 9, is whether or not IS fighters who’ve been held by U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters often known as the Syrian Democratic Forces will escape in giant numbers. Even earlier than the Turkish offensive, some U.S. officers had famous indicators that IS was looking for to regroup.
Officers have stated numerous ISIS fighters, possible simply over 100, have escaped custody since Turkey launched its invasion final week.
There are 11 prisons with IS detainees within the so-called protected zone between Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn.
Accounting for the broader border space that the Turks contend is the protected zone – that quantity grows to 16 prisons. It’s unclear precisely what number of of these are at the moment below Turkish management – however as they push the Kurds out, the Turks are purported to take management of the prisons.
Trump has been broadly criticized for turning his again on the Kurds, who’ve taken heavy casualties as companions with the U.S. since 2016. Even some Republicans are taking intention.
Turkey agrees to so-called ceasefire in northern Syria
“Withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria is a grave strategic mistake. It will leave the American people and homeland less safe, embolden our enemies, and weaken important alliances,” Sen. Majority Chief Mitch McConnell wrote Friday in a Washington Publish opinion column.
Erdogan stated Friday he and Trump share “love and respect,” however he additionally left little doubt that he was offended by an Oct. 9 letter from Trump telling him, “Don’t be a fool!”
Erdogan advised reporters Trump’s phrases weren’t appropriate with “political and diplomatic courtesy” and wouldn’t be forgotten. He stated he would “do what’s necessary” in regards to the letter “when the time comes.” He didn’t elaborate.
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Whereas U.S. officers have insisted that Trump didn’t authorize Turkey’s invasion, the cease-fire codifies almost all of Turkey’s said objectives within the battle.
Throughout a marketing campaign rally in Texas on Thursday night time, Trump stated, “Sometimes you have to let them fight, like two kids in a lot, you got to let them fight and then you pull them apart.”
AP writers Lolita C. Baldor, Deb Riechmann, Alan Fram, Darlene Superville, Jill Colvin and Zeke Miller contributed from Washington.
© 2019 The Canadian Press