President Donald Trump says there is “big success” on the Turkey-Syria border following the withdrawal of Kurdish forces from northeast Syria and the end of a Turkish offensive against them.”Big success on the Turkey/Syria Border. Safe Zone created! Ceasefire has held and combat missions have ended. Kurds are safe and have worked very nicely with us. Captured ISIS prisoners secured. I will be making a statement at 11:00 A.M. from the White House. Thank you!.” Trump said on Twitter.Big success on the Turkey/Syria Border. Safe Zone created! Ceasefire has held and combat missions have ended. Kurds are safe and have worked very nicely with us. Captured ISIS prisoners secured. I will be making a statement at 11:00 A.M. from the White House. Thank you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
The Syrian Kurds fought alongside U.S. forces against Islamic State terrorists. But Turkey considers them to be linked with Kurdish separatists who have long fought for autonomy inside Turkey. Turkey calls the Kurds terrorists. Turkey launched its offensive after Trump ordered nearly all U.S. forces out of northern Syria two weeks ago. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reached an agreement Tuesday on joint control of the Syrian border region. Kurdish fighters would be kept 30 kilometers from the entire 440-kilometer Turkish-Syrian border, and also withdraw from the towns of Manbij and Tel Rifaat. Defense Secretary Mark Esper talks with U.S. troops in front of an F-22 fighter jet deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Lolita Baldor)
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Mark Esper arrived in Baghdad Wednesday for talks with Iraqi officials about the arrival of U.S. troops recently withdrawn from northern Syria. Seven hundred or more troops have moved into western Iraq, where 5,000 military personnel are already deployed. Angry Kurds screamed obscenities and pelted a U.S. convoy with rotten potatoes as the convoy headed through the streets of Duhok in the Iraqi Kurdistan region on the way to Iraq. Esper has said the additional troops would help defend Iraq and be available to conduct anti-terrorism operations against Islamic State insurgents inside Syria. But the Iraqi government says the troops do not have permission to stay in the country. During his visit to Saudi Arabia, the U.S. defense chief said that “eventually their destination is home” back in the United States.