The United Nations special envoy for Syria is meeting with the foreign ministers of Turkey, Iran and Russia in Geneva today, where he’s arguing for the fragile ceasefire in northern Syria to be respected.
Geir Pedersen: “We are strongly appealing for the ceasefires to be respected and that we have also been appealing for a nationwide ceasefire to come into effect. And we do believe that the fighting going on is just another proof of the importance of getting a serious political process under way that can help sorting out the problems in all of Syria, including in the northeast, and obviously also in Idlib.”
Turkey says that Syrian Kurdish fighters have not fully withdrawn from a swath of northern Syria near the Turkish border. Under the terms of the Russian-brokered ceasefire, these Syrian Kurdish fighters are supposed to leave this area by today. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have already fled northern Syria after President Trump abruptly withdrew some U.S. troops from the area, clearing the way for the Turkish invasion. The United States is, however, continuing to station troops in Syria to guard oil fields.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday the U.S. will respond with “overwhelming military force” to keep forces backed by Russia or Syria from taking control of these oil fields. On Sunday, President Trump said the United States is “protecting the oil.”
President Trump: “The oil is, you know, so valuable for many reasons. It fueled ISIS, number one. Number two, it helps the Kurds, because it’s basically been taken away from the Kurds. They were able to live with that oil. And number three, it can help us because we should be able to take some also. And what I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an Exxon Mobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly. But, no, we’re protecting the oil. We’re securing the oil. Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t make a deal at some point.”
That was President Trump speaking on Sunday as he also announced the alleged death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a U.S. special forces raid in Syria. During his speech, Trump claimed al-Baghdadi was “whimpering and crying and screaming” before he detonated a suicide vest. But new details reveal that the Situation Room live stream of the raid did not have audio. The Daily Beast reports two Trump administration officials began texting each other amid Trump’s speech saying “uh, where is he getting that?”