Donald Trump’s decision to allow pull support away from the Kurds in Northern Syria had near immediate consequences. Within days of the President’s announcement, Turkish forces began to bomb the former allies of the United States.
The decision was not popular on either side of the political army. Frequent Trump supporter, Lindsey Graham called said the Kurds were shamelessly abandoned. On Friday afternoon, Defense Secretary Mark Esper denied the US had turned its back on it’s ally.
Esper told reporters, “We have not abandoned the Kurds. Let me be clear about that. Nobody green-lighted this operation by Turkey. Just the opposite — we pushed back very hard at all levels.”
The Defense Secretary also discussed a Thursday phone call he had with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar. Esper said he “strongly encouraged Turkey to discontinue actions in northeastern Syria.”He also said he hopes Turkey and Syria could find “a common way to deescalate the situation before it becomes irreparable.”
Esper ended by explaining that the troop level in Syria is the same as it was before the President’s decision. “We relocated a small contingent of less than 50 special operations soldiers out of the immediate zone of attack,” he said.
This explanation by Esper contradicts Thursday comments from Donald Trump. The President had told reporters, “We’ve won, we beat ISIS, and we beat ’em badly and decisively. We have no soldiers. The last thing I want to do is bring thousands and thousands of soldiers in and defeat everybody again. We’ve already done that.”