In what’s beginning to look like an exact repeat of April 2018, when Trump previously declared it was time to “bring the troops home” from Syria but severe push back from the generals and his own administration resulted in the opposite happening, a senior official has walked back some of the president’s statements regarding the new US draw down in northeast Syria.
In a call with reporters late Monday, following a prior Trump tweet declaring “It is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” a senior administration official told reporters “the U.S. is not removing its forces from Syria in the face of a Turkish incursion.” It appears the Pentagon is merely ready to reposition forces within the country, withdrawing from some key northern border posts:
Rather, the president ordered roughly 50 special operations troops in northern Syria to relocate to a different part of the country after he learned that Turkey has planned an offensive against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria. The official said that offensive had not yet begun.
The report continues, based on the new statement issued on condition of anonymity, saying: “The latest assertion, however, appears to conflict with a flurry of tweets the president issued Monday, further explaining a White House statement late Sunday that first announced the withdrawal, but offered few details.”
A hasty US withdrawal from border observation posts such as at Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain in northeast Syria appears to have already happened.
Officially there’s still as many as 1,000 American troops occupying Syrian, in support of Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who’ve said they were “betrayed” by the White House’s late Sunday statement, which said Turkey will move forward with a military incursion into Northern Syria and that American troops “will no longer be in the immediate area”.
Pentagon officials and reports have claimed the defense department was “blindsided” by the administration’s withdrawal declaration.
— Dave Brown (@dave_brown24) October 7, 2019
Indeed it does appear that some top administration officials were confused by the new policy, as evidenced in a now deleted tweet by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
Esper had stated the US “does not endorse a Turkish operation in Northern Syria,” and further called any such move “destablizing” and that it would bring “consequences”. Likely the statement was premature, and Esper and deleted it in order to await and confirm the official policy, which may still be somewhat up in the air.
How long do people think US troops must remain in Syria? Ten years? Forever? (Are you aware they were there illegally in the first place)? Why is it that the media always ends up defending perpetual war?
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) October 7, 2019
Uncertainty over the Pentagon’s ultimate direction and goal in Syria could remain all the way into next month, given Turkey’s President Erdogan and President Trump are set to discuss the matter of the so-called Turkish ‘safe zone’ in face-to-face talks in Washington.
Meanwhile, both sides of the aisle, including the military and intelligence ‘deep state’ are no doubt already mounting fierce push back.