Turkish president says U.S. troops begin to withdraw from northern Syria
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria has begun after he held a phone conversation with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump late on Sunday.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, talks during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, October 7, 2019. [Photo: IC]
Turkey has already decided to clear northern Syria from "terrorist," the Turkish president told reporters in the capital Ankara, vowing to launch a military campaign into the east of Euphrates at any moment.
"We have a decision made. We said 'one night we could come suddenly.' We continue our determination," Erdogan said when asked about Turkey's military plan for northern Syria.
However, he did not further elaborate on the details of a possible military incursion of Turkish Armed Forces into Syria.
The U.S. and Turkish military delegations on the field are in discussions, the president said.
The White House also announced on Sunday that it has begun withdrawing American troops from Syria's border with Turkey.
"Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into northern Syria," White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
U.S. forces "will not support or be involved in the operation" and "will no longer be in the immediate area," said the statement.
The United States does not want to carry on with the burden of the imprisoned Islamic State (IS) members in Syria, Erdogan said, adding that he plans to visit Washington to meet with Trump in November.
Turkey is also making a study for the fate of these IS members, the Turkish president said.
On Aug. 7, Turkish and U.S. officials agreed to set up a safe zone and develop a "peace corridor" in northern Syria which would address Ankara's security concerns about the Kurdish faction that controls the territory.
The deal envisages withdrawal of the People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers as the Syrian offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), towards the south of the safe zone. The safe zone would also facilitate the return of displaced Syrians currently living in Turkey to their home country.
However, Ankara is dissatisfactory for delays in withdrawing the YPG group, while the United States continues arms support to the Kurdish fighters. Turkey also wants to set up military bases in the planned safe zone.