US pulls troops from northern Syria ahead of Turkish military operation

US pulls troops from northern Syria ahead of Turkish military operation

The remarks came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in his strongest warning yet, threatened on Saturday to launch a military operation into northeastern Syria, where United States troops are deployed and have been trying to defuse tensions between Washington's two allies - Turkey and the Syrian Kurds.

Known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish fighters who fought against the Islamic State with the US, criticized Trump's decision in a statement saying, "The United States forces have not fulfilled their obligations and withdrew their forces from the border area with Turkey".

She said Turkey would take custody of foreign fighters captured in the US-led campaign against ISIS who are now been held by the Kurdish forces.

"We will not hesitate for a moment in defending our people" against Turkish troops, the Syrian-Kurdish force said, adding it has lost 11,000 fighters in the war against ISIL.

The SDF said U.S. forces "have withdrawn from border areas with Turkey", and it accused the United States of not fulfilling its responsibilities under a U.S. -Turkey agreement that involved the Kurdish fighters dismantling some of their defensive capabilities near the border to allay Turkish concerns.

He said a Turkish military operation against the US-backed Kurdish forces could begin "maybe today, maybe tomorrow".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his aim is to combat Kurdish fighters in the border area and set up a "safe zone" for up to two million of the more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees now living in Turkey.

Protesters marched several kilometers to reach a base near Tel Arqam, held by the US-led global coalition which is allied with Kurdish-led forces against ISIS, the correspondent added.

The decision sent shockwaves through the region and Washington, with U.S. officials telling Fox News that top Pentagon officials were "completely blindsided" and "shocked" by the order to pull back hundreds of USA troops, a move that effectively green-lights the Turkey operation.

The Kurdish fighters also control the al-Hol camp, home to more than 70,000 people, including at least 9,000 foreigners, mostly wives and children of IS fighters.

Turkey says the United States, which supports the SDF, a YPG-led force that defeated ISIS in Syria, is moving too slowly to set up the zone. It says it is an extension of a Kurdish rebel group fighting in Turkey. "And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup", McConnell said.

Filmed in in Syria's Tel Abyad District, the move appears to be part of the troop withdrawal, announced by the White House on Sunday.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, says it is still trying to talk Turkey out of invading northeastern Syria.

Turkey will contribute to peace and stability in Syria, he added.

There had been expectations in Turkey of a Trump-Erdogan meeting on Syria last month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, but it did not take place.

President Donald Trump threatened to "obliterate" Turkey's economy if the country does anything he considers to be off limits pertaining to ISIS, as the country prepares to execute an operation without U.S. support in northern Syria.

"We aligned under Obama not with 'the Kurds, ' but with the PKK, the sworn enemy of the Turkish Republic, our ally". Now we're saying, 'OK, Turks, go wipe them out or force them out.' What kind of message is that to the next ally that wants to side with us?

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