President Donald Trump "went off script" during his call on Sunday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, before he announced that Washington would withdraw troops from northeast Syria ahead of a Turkish military operation against Kurds in the region, a senior US military source reportedly told Fox News on 9 October.
During the phone call, Trump had talking points, according to the source:
“Tell Erdogan to stay north of the border."
The source emphasised:
“He went off script.”
US military officials reportedly told Fox News the president ordered the military not to get involved in strikes, after the Kurds requested air support.
According to the well-placed military source, Donald Trump had repeatedly said: “Just let the Turks do it!” in reference to Syria and fighting Daesh*.
However, senior military commanders claimed to be surprised by the timing of the president’s announcement on Sunday night.
“This is a big deal. The SDF will have to reorient to the north and stop fighting ISIS,” according to the source.
As for the fate of 10,000 Daesh detainees and 2,000 foreign fighters guarded by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the sources claimed to have been told by members of the president's national security team that "There’s not a plan for any of that. The Turks are not "going to take responsibility for the ISIS detainees”, stressing the Turks “don’t see ISIS the same way we do."
The same sources insisted Trump "doesn't buy the argument that ISIS unchecked will follow us home."
The ensuing developments, the senior military source reportedly said, will likely look like "ethnic cleansing" by the Turks, adding:
“A lot of people will die”.
“Strategically, everything we warned about is happening,” the military source is believed to have said, referring to Daesh attacking Raqqa, Syria, and the SDF preparing to leave its positions to fight Turkey.
While no decision has yet been made, the source was said to have voiced concerns about force protection and the inability of US troops to continue their missions of partnering with the SDF to go after Daesh, signifying the remaining 1,000 US troops will be almost certainly be withdrawn.
The source was also cited as being dubious as to whether anyone would partner with the United States in the future.
"How do you get other partners? What would give them a reason to trust us?” the source queried.
Turkey launches Operation Peace Spring
US President Donald Trump agreed during a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday to move US troops out of northeastern Syria to clear the way for a Turkish military operation in the area.
Earlier on Thursday the Turkish Defence Ministry announced that the country's forces had seized designated targets and the military operation was continuing as planned, as the Turkey-backed Syrian National Army, previously known as the Free Syrian Army, entered the territories east of Euphrates to support Ankara's offensive, dubbed the Peace Spring Operation, Daily Sabah reported.
Dozens of civilians were killed, hundreds injured and hundreds of thousands displaced in Turkey's attack in the north of Syria, the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party of Syria said in a statement.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Thursday that as many as 109 terrorists had been killed since the start of Turkey's military operation on 9 October.
Ankara claims that the offensive is aimed at clearing the border area of terrorists and creating a security zone.
*Daesh, also known as ISIS/IS/Islamic State, is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and many other countries.