The Turkish military has halted its invasion of northern Syria, after reaching an agreement with Russia Tuesday that would force Syrian Kurdish forces to retreat from a wide swath of the Syrian-Turkish border. The deal came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, on Tuesday. Russia and Turkey agreed to carry out joint patrols along the Syrian-Turkish border. Thousands of Syrian Kurdish civilians have continued to flee the area and into Iraq amid the conflict that began after President Trump spoke to Erdogan and then abruptly withdrew U.S. troops from the region, clearing the way for the Turkish invasion. This is Kurdish refugee Asad Ismael.
Asad Ismael: “Our houses are still destroyed. People are still displaced. People don’t have money. So many people left for other countries.”
Convoys of these U.S. troops have been departing northern Syria for western Iraq, where the Pentagon initially said they would be restationed. But the Iraqi government responded that the U.S. does not have permission to station those troops in Iraq. On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper met with the Iraqi defense minister, who says the U.S. troops will leave Iraq within four weeks. This is Esper speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper: “We’re conducting a phased withdrawal, deliberate phased withdrawal from northeast Syria. We will temporarily reposition in Iraq pursuant to bringing the troops home. And so it’s just one part of a continuing phase, but eventually those troops are going to come home.”