American special operations forces and their supporting troops have begun pulling back from positions in northern Syria. The withdraw is coming in line with an order from the White House. The statement from the White House indicated that the reason for American withdraw from northern Syria is correlated to the expected incursion of Turkish forces in the region that could spark fighting with American-backed Kurds.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the move hours after the White House said U.S. forces in northeast Syria would move aside and clear the way for an expected Turkish incursion. Some military experts and top U.S. officials believe it could finally bring to the end fight against Islamic State there.
“Turkey will soon be moving forward with 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 territorial ’Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
The official statement, released just before 11 p.m. in Washington yesterday, followed an earlier phone call Sunday between President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It wasn’t clear whether that meant the United States would withdraw its roughly 1,000 military personnel completely from northern Syria.
The shift change in policy for American dealings with Turkey, as well as a tactical shift if Washington abandons a key partner—the Kurds—in the fight against Islamic State will be marked as political wind change in the politics of White House for last few years.
The U.S. announcement of withdrawal didn’t mention the fate of the Kurdish fighters who led the charge to retake the ground ISIS militants had captured in the region. Earlier, the Kurds have warned for years that if their U.S. allies pulled out, they could be subjected to an onslaught by Turkish forces.