Turkey launches military offensive in Syria
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called claims that the US withdrawal of troops from northeastern Syria was a green light for the slaughter of the Kurds "false."
In comments made today, Pompeo also did not explicitly endorse the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) as US allies.
Pompeo claims that “it became very clear” after the phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “that there were American soldiers that were going to be at risk and the President made a decision to put them in a place where they were out of harm's way.”
“The United States didn't give Turkey a green light,” Pompeo said in an interview with PBS NewsHour.
Asked whether he personally changed his thinking about "viewing the YPG as US allies,” Pompeo said, “The Turks have a legitimate security concern.”
“We've talked about that. I've talked about that repeatedly. They have a terrorist threat to their south. We've been working to make sure that we did what we could to prevent that terror threat from striking the people in Turkey while trying to achieve what is in America's best interest; the threat from radical Islamic terrorism emanating from Syria, we'll continue to do that,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo would not directly answer when repeatedly asked if the US would take responsibility for the outcome of what happens in Syria.
A prison holding ISIS detainees was hit in a Turkish airstrike, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said today.
“One of the prisons that ISIS detainees held in was struck by Turkish airstrike. Turkey is aiming to undermine all successful efforts and achievements that we gained during our fighting against #ISIS," the group tweeted.
What we know about Turkey's military offensive: A senior US defense official told CNN the Turkish offensive has already had a "detrimental effect" on US-led counter ISIS operations.
The Turkish operation "has challenged our ability to build local security forces, conduct stabilization operations and the Syrian Democratic Forces [ability] to guard over 11,000 dangerous ISIS fighters. We are just watching the second largest army in NATO attack one of our best counter-terrorism partners,” the source said.
An official at the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry said Turkish military operations in Syria are “a direct threat to security and stability in the region.”
The official called for a “distance” from a military option today, according to a statement on the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry’s official website.
"Turkish Military operations in northeast Syria are a direct threat to security and stability in the region and an escalation that would undermine the chances of a political solution sought by the international community, which has recently made tangible progress with the arrival of the international envoy to form a constitutional committee that will determine the future of Syrian people," the official said.
The Foreign Ministry official called for restrain to avoid a situation that would further increase the suffering of the Syrian people.
Saudi Arabia condemned the Turkish offensive in northeast Syria today, according to an official source cited by state TV.
Saudi Arabia warned that the military action could have negative repercussions on the security of the region.
“An official source pointed out that regardless of the pretexts being promoted by Turkey, the seriousness of this aggression on northeast Syria has negative repercussions on the security and stability of the region,” Saudi State TV reported Wednesday.
The country warned that the offensive undermines the fight against the Islamic State terrorist organization in these areas.
Some background: Turkey is reportedly targeting the US-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — an important US ally in the war against ISIS. Just hours after Turkey launched its offensive, the SDF said it had suspended its anti-ISIS operations in order to deal with the attack, a senior US defense official told CNN.
Syrian Democratic Forces fighters have repelled Turkish ground forces along the border, according to SDF spokesperson Mustafa Bali.
“Ground attack by Turkish forces has been repelled by SDF fighters in Til Abyad. No advance as of now," he tweeted.
Bali's announcement comes after the Turkish Defense Ministry confirmed earlier on Twitter that the Turkish Armed Forces and the Syrian National Army had "launched the land operation into the east of the Euphrates river as part of the Operation Peace Spring.”
France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian condemned Turkey’s military offensive in northeast Syria and said they have called on the United Nations Security Council.
“I condemn the unilateral operation launched by Turkey in Syria,” Le Drian tweeted today.
“It jeopardizes the security and humanitarian efforts of the Coalition against ISIS and risks undermining the security of Europeans. It must stop. The Security Council has been called upon,” he added.
The Turkish Defense Ministry confirmed the launch of its land operation in northeast Syria today.
“The Turkish Armed Forces and the Syrian National Army have launched the land operation into the east of the Euphrates river as part of the Operation Peace Spring," the ministry said in a tweet.
Some context: Turkey is reportedly targeting the US-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — a key US ally in the war against ISIS. Just hours after Turkey launched its offensive, the SDF said that they had suspended their anti-ISIS operations in order to deal with the attack, a senior US defense official told CNN.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to President Trump today about Turkey's military operation in Syria.
“The leaders expressed their serious concern at Turkey’s invasion of north east Syria and the risk of a humanitarian catastrophe in the region,” the Downing Street statement said.
Some background: Days ago Trump announced that US troops would pull back from the area, prompting much criticism and fear over violence in the region.
Turkey's military launched an offensive in northeast Syria today to push US-backed Kurdish forces away from its border.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which administers a semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq, said it does not have the capacity to accommodate all of the people who are expected to be displaced as a result of the Turkish offensive.
"We do not have the capacity to absorb this,” KRG spokesperson Jutyar Adil told CNN, urging the international community to intervene with support.
The KRG said Wednesday that the consequences of the military escalation "go beyond Syria's borders," warning of the return of ISIS and mass displacement.
"The regional government has always been stressing about the crisis and must be resolved through a strict political solution that guarantees the rights of all Syrians, including the Kurdish people," the statement said.