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U.S. Says It Is Not Backing Turkish Operation in Northern Syria

Oct. 8, 2019 (EIRNS)— The Trump Administration has taken step to demonstrate that it is not backing Turkey’s bid to create what Ankara calls a “safe zone” in northern Syria.

On Oct. 7, U.S. Defense Department spokeswoman Carla Gleason told reporters the Combined Air Operations Center has removed Turkey from the anti-ISIS coalition’s air tasking order, which is the means by which it coordinates the flights of partner nations operating in the theater, and also halted Turkey’s access to surveillance information. It does not technically cut off Turkey from the airspace, but, she said, “if you’re not on the air tasking order, it’s really hard to coordinate flights in that area.”

Meanwhile an unnamed U.S. official was quoted by the official Turkish Anadolu Agency that the “U.S. does not endorse Turkish action. The Secretary of Defense will be in touch with affected allies, partners and [Capitol] Hill today.”

President Donald Trump himself issued a strong statement yesterday on Twitter warning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying:

“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over the captured ISIS fighters and families. The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. It is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory. THE USA IS GREAT!”

On Oct. 8, Trump announced he will host Turkish President Erdogan in Washington on Nov. 13, which he mentioned in a tweet:

“So many people conveniently forget that Turkey is a big trading partner of the United States, in fact they make the structural steel frame for our F-35 Fighter Jet. They have also been good to deal with, helping me to save many lives at Idlib Province, and returning, in very good health, at my request, Pastor Brunson, who had many years of a long prison term remaining. Also remember, and importantly, that Turkey is an important member in good standing of NATO. He is coming to the U.S. as my guest on November 13th. #ENDENDLESSWARS.”

How much of an actual pullout of American troops is underway or planned, is an open question. One unnamed senior U.S. administration official was quoted by TASS as telling reporters,

“Removal of the 50 to 100 U.S. soldiers from the safety zone where the Turks may incur is not the beginning of a formal pullout of Syria... The President has said this on numerous occasions, and the American people want American troops as soon as possible. And that remains our ultimate goal, is to get American troops from the Middle East and to let the parties in the region determine their own future.”

The official continued, “But this is not the time for any such move right now. We’re moving 50 troops within Syria.”

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