Pentagon says it does not endorse Turkish operation in northern Syria

Source: Xinhua| 2019-10-08 03:55:34|Editor: Liu
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Department of Defense said on Monday that it did not endorse a Turkish operation in northern Syria, warning Ankara of "possible destabilizing consequences."

"The Department of Defense made clear to Turkey - as did the President - that we do not endorse a Turkish operation in Northern Syria," Pentagon said in a statement.

The statement also noted that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley had cautioned their respective Turkish counterparts that unilateral action creates risks for Turkey.

"We will work with our other NATO allies and Coalition partners to reiterate to Turkey the possible destabilizing consequences of potential actions to Turkey, the region, and beyond," the statement said.

The White House said in a late Sunday statement that Turkey would soon launch an offensive in northern Syria, and the U.S. forces "would no longer be in the immediate area."

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, saying that it is time to get out of these "endless wars."

Pentagon did not reveal any information about the force reorganization plan in the statement.

Anonymous officials inside the Trump administration have indicated that the 100 to 150 U.S. military personnel deployed to that area would be pulled back in advance of any Turkish operation, but they would not be completely withdrawn from Syria, reported The New York Times on Sunday night.

U.S. lawmakers from both parties criticized Trump's decision, which leaves the fate of Syrian Kurdish, the U.S. ally in fighting the Islamic State (IS), in uncertainty facing the offensive from Ankara, who has regarded them as terrorists for long.

Trump seemed to revise his stance on the Turkish operation in a later tweet. "If Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey," said Trump, without offering details.

On Aug. 7, Turkish and U.S. officials agreed to set up a safe zone and develop a "peace corridor" in northern Syria, which would address Ankara's security concerns about the Kurdish faction that controls the territory.

However, Ankara is dissatisfied with delays in withdrawing the People's Protection Units, which it sees as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, while the United States continues arms support to the Kurdish fighters. Turkey also wants to set up military bases in the planned safe zone.