In northern Syria, U.S. troops continued their withdrawal Sunday, as residents threw potatoes and rotten fruit at the convoys as they departed for western Iraq, where the Pentagon says they will be restationed, despite President Trump’s claims that he was “bringing the troops home.” This is Pentagon chief Mark Esper.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper: “I had a discussion last week with my French counterpart, and I had a conversation with the NATO secretary general. We both agreed on the importance of continuing the defeat ISIS campaign.”
Trump hastily ordered the withdrawal from Syria after speaking on the phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on October 6, and cleared the way for the Turkish offensive against Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria. There were reports of ongoing fighting between the Turkish military and Kurdish groups over the weekend, despite a five-day ceasefire, which ends tomorrow. The New York Times reports a top Kurdish commander has warned of a bloodbath, saying, “There will be ethnic cleansing.” The Times also reports Erdogan is seeking to obtain a nuclear bomb. Erdogan is meeting in Sochi with Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow. Over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a congressional delegation to Jordan and then to Afghanistan, where she and other lawmakers highlighted their disagreement with Trump’s Syria policy. Last week, U.S. lawmakers repudiated Trump’s policy on Syria in a landslide bipartisan vote. U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper also traveled to Afghanistan Sunday in efforts to restart peace talks with the Taliban, after President Trump abruptly broke off the talks last month.