Trump warns Turkey of going too far after greenlighting Syria invasion

U.S. President Donald Trump warned Turkey Monday against going too far in Syria, one day after giving Ankara a green light to invade its southern neighbor, sparking panic among Washington's Kurdish allies. 

The Pentagon pulled back about two dozen of its forces from Syria's northern frontier, where they serve as a buffer between the Turkish military and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, after Trump's surprise announcement late Sunday that U.S. forces "will no longer be in the immediate area." 

But amid an outcry from the region and strong opposition at home from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, the U.S. leader appeared to reverse himself, though without drawing any specific red lines that might protect Kurdish allies. 

"If Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I've done before!)," Trump tweeted. 

Turkish-backed Syrian fighters gather near the Syrian-Turkish border north of Aleppo, October 7, 2019. /VCG Photo

Turkish-backed Syrian fighters gather near the Syrian-Turkish border north of Aleppo, October 7, 2019. /VCG Photo

Other U.S. officials, apparently surprised by Trump's Sunday announcement, stressed that Washington will not actively support the long-threatened Turkish action, warning of destabilizing blowback to the region. 

"The Department of Defense made clear to Turkey – as did the president – that we do not endorse a Turkish operation in Northern Syria," said Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman. 

A senior State Department official said the United States would not "act militarily" to stop the Turks. 

However, the official added, "We think this operation is a very bad idea. We do not think this operation will provide more security." 

Washington officials minimized the pullback of troops that Trump had announced late Sunday. 

The State Department official indicated that the number pulled back -- out of as many as a thousand estimated in place along the border -- was "two very small detachments" numbering about 25 people, who would move only a "very short distance." 

"We don't want those troops to be there and thus send a signal that they are supporting the operation," the officials said. 

"Beyond that, there's no change to our military posture in the northeast." 

Source(s): AFP