The change in U.S. policy in Syria that triggered a media storm on Monday involves the redeployment of fewer than 25 troops from the Turkish border to elsewhere in Syria, a State Department official was quoted as saying.
The Times of Israel reported:
The United States has pulled back a “very small number” of troops from areas of northern Syria along the Turkish border, a senior State Department official says, after US President Donald Trump seemed to indicate a wider retreat.
The pullback only concerns “two very small detachments” — meaning less than 25 people in total — that have been moved a “very short distance,” the official says.
The White House announced Sunday that the U.S. had reached an agreement with Turkey under which U.S. troops would withdraw from the border area. That, critics said, would allow Turkey to launch an invasion of Kurdish-held areas once protected by the U.S., leading to fears that the Kurds, who helped the U.S. fight the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS), would be wiped out. Turkey has long cracked down on Kurdish nationalists in the region.
Trump tweeted, in justification of his decision, that “it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home.”
He added: “WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN.”
However, he also warned: “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!).”
He did not mention the Kurds specifically in his warning, but said he would hold Turkey accountable for “watch[ing] over” captured ISIS fighters.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.