Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday began the process of withdrawing US troops from eastern Euphrates in Syria.
“The withdrawal of US forces in northern Syria started as President Donald Trump said in a telephone call yesterday,” he was quoted as saying by the Anadolu news agency.
Erdogan noted that they are studying “what steps are necessary to ensure that ISIS members don’t escape from prisons in the east of the Euphrates”.
The Turkish president is likely to meet in the first half of November next, which was announced with his US counterpart.
The White House announced last night that Turkey will soon launch a military operation in northeastern Syria, and that US forces won’t support or participate in the operation.
Kurdish sources confirmed that the American forces began in the early hours of the day to withdraw from the points stationed in the border areas with Turkey in the areas of Ras Al Ain in the countryside of the north-western Hasaka, and Tal Abyad in the northern countryside of Raqqa.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) today accused the United States of not fulfilling its promises.
“US forces haven’t fulfilled their obligations and have withdrawn their forces from the border areas with Turkey, and Turkey is now preparing”, the SDF, whose main component is Kurdish militants, said in a statement on Monday, for an invasion of northern and eastern Syria”.
The United Nations warned on Monday that it was “preparing for the worst” in northeast Syria after the United States announced it would allow the Turkish army to carry out military operations in the region.
“We don’t know what will happen”, said UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syrian Crisis Panos Momsis in Geneva.
“We’re preparing for the worst”, he said, referring to “many unanswered questions” regarding the implications of the operation.
Momsis added that the United Nations was “in contact with all parties” on the ground.
But he made clear that his office had not been informed in advance of the US decision, which is a de facto renunciation of the Kurds, who were Washington’s main ally in the fight against IS.
According to Momsis, the UN’s priorities are to ensure that the forthcoming Turkish operation does not cause any displacement, maintain humanitarian access and impose no restrictions on freedom of movement.
He explained that the United Nations had a contingency plan to deal with any additional suffering for civilians but hoped that it wouldn’t be needed.
Turkey has sent reinforcements to the border region with Syria in recent weeks, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that the operation waved by his country for some time may start “any night without warning”.
His comments came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday that his country was determined to “cleanse” Syria of “terrorists” who threaten Turkey’s security, referring to Syria’s democratic forces whose Kurdish fighters form the backbone.