19:32 GMT16 February 2020
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    The White House on Sunday announced that the US would withdraw troops from the northern part of Syria bordering Turkey, after US President Donald Trump allegedly spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who claimed that Kurdish forces in the region are cooperating with insurgents inside Turkey.

    Rick Sterling, an investigative journalist and member of the Syria Solidarity Movement, joined Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear Tuesday to discuss how the presence of the US and Turkey in Syria is a clear violation of international law. 

    “This is a perfect example of the need for international law and the fact that it is being violated routinely in Syria. Turkey is there in northern Syria, and it’s been supplying their own terrorist factions for years, and the US is there with at least 1,000 troops and about 12 bases. It's a complete violation of international law,” Sterling told hosts Brian Becker.

    According to a White House spokesperson, Trump decided to withdraw troops from northern Syria after he learned that Turkey was planning “some sort of military operation in the Arab region.”

    “The president made it very clear publicly and privately that the United States does not endorse or support any Turkish operation in northern Syria. There’ll be no US armed forces involvement or support of any operation that the Turks undertake,” the spokesperson added.

    Following Trump’s announcement, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lashed out at the president, writing on Twitter that the move represents a "betrayal” and that the “president has sided with authoritarian leaders of Turkey and Russia.”

    “This is where we’re at. The New York Times and other papers and the media is in full-scale assault of Donald Trump. The one thing that we can say is, it’s no way to run an empire. He doesn't have his team on board. His team keeps changing. If we think back, a few years ago, Turkey was saying they wouldn’t allow the Kurdish groups to go west of the Euphrates, and that was their demarcation line. And then they launched an assault … they effectively drove the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] back east of the Euphrates, and now Erdogan is saying that they want the whole region east of the Euphrates right to the Iraq border, 30 kilometers within Syria. So it’s basically a huge land grab of the whole area there to the Iraq border,” Sterling explained. 

    According to Sterling, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad predicted that the US would eventually pull out troops from the northern part of Syria bordering Turkey.

    “Certainly, Assad has been telling” the SDF and the People's Protection Units or YPG, which is a mainly-Kurdish militia in Syria, “very explicitly” that the US will not stand by them, Sterling noted.

    “He’s been kind of predicting what we are seeing transpire now. Earlier this year, he was telling them: ‘The US is going to betray you in the long run, and you are first and foremost Syrians, and work with us within the Syrian state, and that’s your best chance, and that’s the way forward.’ Maybe this is going to hit home hard this time,” he continued.

    Becker referred to the Syrian conflict in the context of “imperialism trying to overthrow the sovereign government of Syria.” 

    “That is the root issue here - that a whole bunch of countries are violating international law, are invading Syria. It’s very ironic to hear the US and Turkey pretending that they are major forces fighting ISIS, because all of the ISIS fighters, they all enter through Turkey … The US has no right to be there. Neither does Turkey,” Sterling explained.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    Erdogan, Donald Trump, Kurdish fighters, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Turkey, Syria
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