U.S. “preparing to evacuate” remaining troops from northern Syria, defense secretary says

Washington — The U.S. is “preparing to evacuate” about 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria “as safely and quickly as possible,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told “Face the Nation” in an interview airing Sunday.

“In the last 24 hours, we learned that [the Turks] likely intend to extend their attack further south than originally planned, and to the west,” Esper said. “We also have learned in the last 24 hours that the … SDF are looking to cut a deal, if you will, with the Syrians and the Russians to counterattack against the Turks in the north.”

“And so we find ourselves, we have American forces likely caught between two opposing advancing armies, and it’s a very untenable situation,” Esper said. “So I spoke with the president last night, after discussions with the rest of the national security team, and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria.”

While the U.S. move is a gift to the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it’s seen as a stark betrayal of the Kurds who have fought alongside U.S. forces for years to defeat ISIS. The Kurds, former U.S. officials and senior Republican lawmakers have warned the U.S. pullout from the region could give ISIS room to rebuild, and send a message that the U.S. is willing to abandon close allies when the political winds change.

Article URL : https://www.cbsnews.com/news/turkey-syria-mark-esper-secretary-of-defense-us-preparing-to-evacuate-all-troops-from-northern-syria-face-the-nation/

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