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White House: Turkey to Invade Northern Syria

US to pull troops ahead of planned offensive
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 7, 2019 2:22 AM CDT
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In this Wednesday, July 11, 201 photo, President Trump talks with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a summit of heads of state and government at NATO headquarters in Brussels.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
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(Newser) – The White House said Sunday that Turkey will soon invade northern Syria, renewing fears of a slaughter of Kurdish fighters allied with the US in a yearslong campaign against ISIS. For months, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been threatening to launch a military assault on the Kurdish forces in northern Syria, many of whom his government considers terrorists. The Kurdish forces bore the brunt of the US-led campaign against ISIS, and Republicans and Democrats have warned that allowing the Turkish attack would send a troubling message to American allies across the globe, the AP reports. The announcement came after a call between President Trump and Erdogan, the White House said.

US troops "will not support or be involved in the operation" and "will no longer be in the immediate area," in northern Syria, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an unusual late-Sunday statement that was silent on the fate of the Kurds. It was not clear whether that meant the US would be withdrawing its 1,000 or so troops completely from northern Syria. The White House statement Sunday said Turkey will take custody of foreign fighters captured in the campaign against ISIS who have been held by Kurdish forces supported by the US. In December, Trump announced he was withdrawing American troops from Syria but was met with widespread condemnation for abandoning Kurdish allies to the Turkish assault.

(Read more Syria stories.)

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