Last Saturday, President Trump called for 1,000 American soldiers to move out of northern Syria. They had been posted there since 2017 – keeping a delicate peace between the conflicting forces of the war-torn nation. After the announcement, chaos broke out.
Turkey’s invasion into northern Syria has only escalated, leaving not only the Syrian Kurdish fighters in jeopardy, but the remaining American troops as well. Some national security leaders are calling for a total break from Syria, while others criticize the move, saying we are leaving the Kurds to die. One thing is for sure: While we’ve been shuffling troops around the Middle East, we are definitely not clearing out. At least, not yet.
Trump’s decision to withdraw happened a mere day after the Turkish military attacked an American outpost.
Turkey Fires on US Troops
Here’s what we know for sure:
- Turkey began invading northern Syria on Wednesday, October 9, after President Trump and Turkish President Erdogan spoke on the phone; Erdogan informed Trump of Turkey’s impending invasion.
- Two days into the Turkish invasion, multiple rounds of 155 mm fire were launched at a US Special Operations post near Kobane, in northeastern Syria. The rounds landed near the base around 21:00 and there was an explosion. No one was harmed.
- US forces had been operating at the post for months, and Turkey was aware of their presence.
This is where the information gets a bit murky. After Turkey fires on US troops, they claim that they fired in response to a Kurdish attack; they stopped immediately after being contacted by US officials – no harm intended. But former special envoy Brett McGurk isn’t buying it.
“Turkey knows all of our locations down to the precise grid coordinate as confirmed by SECDEF and CJCS only two hours ago. This was not a mistake,” he tweeted.
McGurk has experience as a national security advisor under both the Obama and Trump administrations. He reads Turkey’s attack as a very deliberate message: Get out of Syria. And we listened to that message.
Trump Raises Sanctions on Ankara
After Trump’s decision to take 1,000 soldiers out of Syria, Turkish aggression only increased. They are actively slaughtering Kurdish fighters, who have been allied in our fight against ISIS for years now. This also creates a hostile environment for remaining US soldiers and civilians, and could allow ISIS prisoners in the area to escape.
Amidst rising pressures from foreign and American officials, Trump has raised sanctions on Ankara – the capital of Turkey – to try to pressure them out of Syria.
The sanctions target Turkey’s Defense and Energy ministries. Basically, they mean we are economically penalizing Turkey for their actions by enacting things such as trade barriers, tariffs, and other restrictions. We have set a 50 percent tariff on steel imports from Turkey, and ceased negotiations on a $100 billion trade deal.
“President Trump made it very clear that the United States is going to continue to take actions against Turkey’s economy until they bring the violence to an end,” Vice President Pence remarked.
So Where Will Our Troops Go?
According to Time, the 1,000 US soldiers who are moving out of Syria will be transferred to Iraq, Kuwait, and potentially Jordan.
As of now, they have left the Manbij area where US outposts were originally placed in 2017, and are preparing to leave the country once officials have designated new locations. The plan going forward is to conduct any operations in Syria from a cross-border standpoint.
Click here to see where our troops are stationed across the Middle East.
Click here to learn how you can send a care package or letter to a deployed soldier.
If your loved one is deployed or about to be, here are some tips on getting through it. Our hearts go out to the families of deployed soldiers — thank you for the sacrifices you make each day for this country.