The Pentagon on Friday, Oct. 11, has called on Turkey to cease military action from targeting U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, warning of “serious consequences” should it not comply.
President Donald Trump openly called the Syrian operation a “bad idea” and said that “The United States does not endorse this attack.”
Trump announced earlier this week following his call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that Turkey would proceed with a long-planned operation in northern Syria and that U.S. forces would be withdrawn from the area, The Hill reports.
Chief Pentagon spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman said in a written statement that Defense Secretary Mark Esper “made it clear” that the U.S. opposes the incursion.
Esper said at a Pentagon news conference that an “impulsive” decision by Erdogan to invade northern Syria would further destabilize a region already caught up in civil war, and it puts America’s Syrian Kurdish partners “in harm’s way,” CBS News reports.
“While the secretary reaffirmed we value our strategic bilateral relationship, this incursion risks serious consequences for Turkey,” Hoffman said.
“The Secretary also reiterated his strong concern that, despite U.S. force protection measures, Turkey’s actions could harm U.S. personnel in Syria,” Hoffman added, saying Esper “Strongly encouraged” Turkey to discontinue actions “to increase the possibility that the United States, Turkey, and our partners could find a common way to deescalate the situation before it becomes irreparable.”
“To be clear, we are not abandoning our Kurdish partner forces, and U.S. troops remain with them in other parts of Syria. The impulsive action of President Erdogan to invade northern Syria has put the United States in a tough situation,” Esper said.
A senior Turkish official in Washington reportedly suggested that a U.S. mediation offer would not be welcomed in Ankara as the Turkish is opposed to negotiating with terrorists. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, reiterated that Turkey would terminate the operation and withdraw forces only after the border area is cleared of Kurdish fighters it deems “terrorists” but would stay in Syria “one more day than is necessary,” according to Star Tribune.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the White House warned Turkey of “powerful sanctions” for its military incursion, and the U.S. will “shut down the Turkish economy” if Ankara goes too far, Star Tribune reports.
Amid sharp criticism from House Democrats and certain GOP lawmakers, Trump staunchly stood by his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the area.
“Fighting between various groups that has been going on for hundreds of years. USA should never have been in Middle East,” Trump said in a series of tweets. “The stupid endless wars, for us, are ending!”
“From the first day I entered the political arena, I made it clear that I did not want to fight these endless, senseless wars – especially those that don’t benefit the United States,” Trump added. “Turkey has committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place and we will hold them to this commitment.”
Trump noted that no American soldiers are in the area, ant that the U.S. will be monitoring the situation closely, AP News reports.