The Pentagon has begun removing all its troops in northern Syria, a US official said on Monday. This came after Washington announced that it was pulling out 1,000 troops from the Northern Syria. Nearly 1,000 troops will vacate the country, leaving behind only a small contingent of 150 in the southern Syria base at Al Tanf. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been pressing a deadly assault against Kurdish forces—a key US ally in the five-year battle to crush the Islamic State group—in northeastern Syria since Wednesday last week.
On Sunday, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper had said President Donald Trump had ordered the withdrawal of up to 1,000 troops from northern Syria. “I can’t give a timeline because it changes hourly. We want to make sure that we do so in a very safe, deliberate manner,” he told the CBS network. “And at this point in time in the last 24 hours we learned that they (Turkey) likely intend to expand their attack further south than originally planned and to the west.”
Trump on Monday announced that he will authorise sanctions against Turkish officials, raise steel tariffs and end negotiations on a US dollar 100 billion trade deal. “This (executive) order will enable the US to impose powerful additional sanctions on those who may be involved in serious human rights abuses, obstructing a ceasefire, preventing displaced persons from returning home, forcibly repatriating refugees or threatening the peace, security or stability in Syria,” Trump said in a statement.
“I’m fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path,” the president said.
Trump said he will be issuing the executive order authorising imposition of sanctions against current and former officials of Turkey and those contributing to destabilising Syria.
The order will authorise a broad range of measures, including financial sanctions, the blocking of property, and barring entry into the US, he said, adding that the US will immediately stop negotiations with Turkey on a USD 100 billion trade deal.