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US Envoy Rips Syria Withdrawal

'We didn't try' to stop Turkey's invasion, diplomat writes
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 7, 2019 7:00 PM CST
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Turkish army vehicles return to Tirley from Syria after conducting a joint patrol with Russian forces on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Mehmet Guzel)

(Newser) – A senior American diplomat has written a highly critical assessment of the Trump administration's abrupt withdrawal of troops from northeast Syria last month, a decision that paved the way for an attack on US-allied forces in the area, officials said Thursday. In an internal memo, William Roebuck, the top American diplomat in northern Syria, takes the Trump administration to task for not doing more to prevent Turkey's invasion or protect the Kurds, who fought alongside US forces in the battle against the Islamic State group, said two U.S. officials familiar with the matter. One of the officials describes the memo, which was first reported by the New York Times, as "lengthy and harsh," the AP reports. The memo can be read here. The officials aren't authorized to discuss internal documents publicly and are speaking on condition of anonymity.

Roebuck's memo highlights how President Trump's decision to withdraw American troops was deeply divisive, even within his own administration. The move was widely criticized by Democrats and Republicans as abandoning a key ally in the fight against the Islamic State. Turkey invaded days after Trump ordered the small number of US special forces to leave. Roebuck wrote that there was no way to know if more pressure on Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, would have stopped the operation. "It's a tough call, and the answer is probably not. But we won't know because we didn't try," the Times quoted Roebuck as writing.

(Read more Syria stories.)

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