World

U.S. pulls troops from northeast Syria ahead of Turkish attack

7 October 2019 - 31   - 0

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The United States began pulling troops from northeast Syria on Monday in a major policy shift, opening the way for a Turkish attack on Kurdish-led forces long allied to Washington and handing Turkey responsibility for thousands of jihadi captives.

The move was denounced as a “stab in the back” by the Kurdish-led forces who have been Washington’s most capable partner in fighting Islamic State in Syria.

The forces, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), accused Washington of reneging on an ally, warning it would have a “great negative” impact on the war against the militants.

In a sign of deepening humanitarian concern, a U.N. official reacted to the move by saying civilians must be spared in any Turkish operation in the northeast, adding the United Nations hoped that displacement and atrocities can be prevented.

“We are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst,” Panos Moumtzis, U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator for the Syria crisis, told reporters in Geneva.

A U.S. official said American troops had withdrawn from two observation posts on the border, at Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ain, and had told the commander of the SDF that the United States would not defend the SDF from an imminent Turkish offensive.

In a sign of deepening humanitarian concern, a U.N. official reacted to the move by saying civilians must be spared in any Turkish operation in the northeast, adding the United Nations hoped that displacement and atrocities can be prevented.

“We are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst,” Panos Moumtzis, U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator for the Syria crisis, told reporters in Geneva.

A U.S. official said American troops had withdrawn from two observation posts on the border, at Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ain, and had told the commander of the SDF that the United States would not defend the SDF from an imminent Turkish offensive.

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