US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday that his country was preparing to evacuate about 1,000 US troops from northern Syria.
“In the last 24 hours, we have learned that the Turks are more likely to expand their offensive to the south than originally planned, and to the west”, Esper said in an interview with CBS News.
He added: “We learned during the past 24 hours also, that the forces of the” SDF “looking forward to conclude a deal, if you will, with the Syrians (Bashar Al Assad regime) and the Russians to face the Turkish attack in the north.
As for the withdrawal of US troops, Esper pointed out that it would be a deliberate withdrawal, and that they want to make it safely and as quickly as possible, without further details.
On the other hand, Esper said in an interview with Fox News that the United States finds itself in a difficult position, because both sides are allies.
“We will not take part in the fight against Turkey, NATO’s old ally, on behalf of the SDF”, he said.
He also stressed that US forces will not leave the country altogether, but will move south.
Esper also ruled out any confrontation with Turkey in line with President Trump’s tweets since the launch of Operation Spring Well.
France will take action in the coming hours to ensure the safety of its army and civilian personnel in northeastern Syria, the French presidency said in a statement on Monday after an urgent cabinet meeting.
France has special forces in the region as part of its participation in the US-led coalition fighting IS.