Turkey has been given the green light for an offensive into northern Syria with US forces moving out of the area, dumping Washington’s Kurdish allies.
The abrupt foreign policy change took place following a telephone conversation between US President Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday. Now, Turkey will be in charge of capturing Islamic State fighters in the area whereas up until now Kurdish forces have spearheaded the campaign in the region.
The swerve raises fears for fresh fighting between Turkey and Kurdish forces now that the US will no longer act as a buffer between the two sides.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), led by Kurds, said on Monday that their US partners had begun withdrawing troops from areas on the Turkish border. SDF Spokesman Mustafa Bali said the US was leaving the area to “turn into a war zone”. He added that the SDF would defend north-east Syria.
President Trump, facing an impeachment, reportedly did not consult with or brief US diplomats dealing with Syria when making this decision. A statement issued by the White House mentioned the decision:
Iraq war veteran Ruben Gallego tweeted that the move was “destabilising”. He said the “Kurds will never trust America again. They will look for new alliances or independence to protect themselves.”
Member of European Parliament Guy Verhofstadt tweeted, “The US decision to abandon the Kurds, who did so much to fight ISIS, is short sighted & will likely create greater regional instability, violence.”
Turkey sends reinforcements to the border with Syria:
Turkey hosts more than 3.6 million Syrians who fled the civil war that began in 2011. The country wants to move up to two million of the refugees from its territory into the zone.