President Donald Trump has once again defended his decision to withdraw around 1,000 American soldiers from northern Syria, saying that the US never promised Kurdish forces that they would stay in the country for "400 years" to protect them. He added that he doesn't want American forces to stay in Syria and therefore they are leaving the country "nicely".
The president added that at first US troops previously stationed in the northern part of the Arab Republic would be redeployed to "different areas", but would eventually return home. He clarified that a "small" number of American troops will remain in Syria, with one group staying behind in order to "secure the oil", while the others will be stationed near the borders with Jordan and Israel.
POTUS indicated that these troops will remain in the Arab Republic due to requests from the governments of Jordan and Israel.
Earlier in the day, Defence Secretary Mark Esper stated that despite the withdrawal, some US forces will stay behind in Syria to ensure that its oil fields don't fall into the hands of Daesh* remnants.
Trump earlier faced harsh criticism domestically over his decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria, which was controlled by Kurdish militants, leaving them alone to face the Turkish military operation that started on 9 October. Ankara sees the Syrian Kurdish militants as a branch of the PKK, deemed a terrorist organisation by Turkey.
Possible New Punishments for Turkey
POTUS also pointed out that the negotiated ceasefire between Turkish and Kurdish forces is still "holding", despite some skirmishes. He noted, though, that if Turkey "misbehaves", Washington would be introducing new tariffs on its products and more sanctions.
For the past several days, local Syrian media outlets have reported multiple ceasefire violations on the Turkish side, citing Kurdish militants. Kurdish leaders have called on the US to enforce the ceasefire that Washington brokered between them and Ankara.
Turkey has already faced sanctions from the US over its offensive against Syrian Kurdish militants and has vowed to retaliate in kind. EU countries have also threatened Ankara with sanctions, but so far their response has been limited to a majority of the bloc’s member states suspending military shipments to Turkey.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia