Tags: Syria | Trump Administration | esperturkeysyriakurds

Defense's Esper: Turkey To Blame For 'Terrible Situation' In Northern Syria

mark esper speaks at a news conference
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper speaks to a gathering of soldiers at the University Club at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Ky., Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

By    |   Sunday, 13 October 2019 09:30 AM

Defense Secretary Mark Esper calls the incursion of Turkish forces into northern Syria “a very terrible situation” — and says executions of Kurdish captives “appears to be” a war crime.

In an interview on CBS News’ “Face The Nation” released ahead of airing by The Hill, Esper blamed Turkey for the bloody chaos.

“It’s a very terrible situation over there, a situation caused by the Turks," he said. "Despite our opposition, they decided to make this incursion,” Esper said, adding descriptions of Turkey’s apparent execution of Syrian Kurdish captives “appears to be” a war crime.

Esper also said officials need to "sort ... out" reports that Turkish forces attacked U.S. Special Forces in Syria, saying: "We gave them the location of our forces [but] there’s a fog out there, things happen."

He confirmed about 1,000 U.S. troops would be withdrawn from northern Syria as part of a "deliberate withdrawal,” but pushed back at descriptions of the pullout as “a retreat.”

“I wouldn’t characterize it that way … we did not want to put American forces in harm’s way,” he said.

“Turkey committed this action despite our protestations, all of our warnings,” he added. “We are doing what’s in the interest of our service members not to put them in harm’s way.”

In a separate interview Sunday on “Fox News Sunday,” Esper said Turkey was “warned” not go into northern Syrian, and that “all of this is playing out exactly as we predicted.”

“Fifty service members are not going to stop a Kurdish advance,” he added, insisting, “We should not put U.S. forces in between a Turkish advance.”

“We are not going to go to a war in the Middle East against a Turkey which is a longstanding NATO ally,” Esper declared.

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Defense Secretary Mark Esper calls the incursion of Turkish forces into northern Syria "a very terrible situation" - and says executions of Kurdish captives "appears to be" a war crime.In an interview on CBS News' "Face The Nation" released ahead of airing by The Hill,...
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2019-30-13
Sunday, 13 October 2019 09:30 AM
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