The Pentagon has confirmed that US troops have been told to remain in northern Syria as Turkey ramped up its efforts in the region by attacking US-backed Kurdish fighters. The news comes following Trump’s decision to withdraw all US troops from northern Syria in a mass repatriation programme.
On Monday, the President announced that he felt the time had come to remove US troops from northern Syria, reasoning that America shouldn’t have involved itself deeper than it had in local conflicts.
A day later, reports emerged that US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had suffered a major attack along the Syrian-Turkish border.
Just days before, US troops with armoured vehicles had been pictured in the same location.
The newest attack was reported by the Coordination and Military operations Centre of the SDF, as the centre’s Twitter account posted: "The Turkish military is shelling one of our points on SereKaniye Border with Turkey.
Trump has redeployed troops in Turkey after pulling them out a day before
“There were no injuries to our forces.
“We didn't respond to this unprovoked attack.
It added: “We are prepared to defend the people and the people of NE Syria.”
The reports came just before Pentagon spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman, attempted to play down reports that Trump had pulled troops out of Syria without having first informing top US defence officials.
A statement from Mr Hoffman read: "Despite continued misreporting to the contrary, Secretary Esper and Chairman Milley were consulted over the last several days by the President regarding the situation and efforts to protect U.S. forces in northern Syria in the face of military action by Turkey.
It continued: ”The Department's position has been and remains that establishing a safe zone in northern Syria is the best path forward to maintaining stability.
“Unfortunately, Turkey has chosen to act unilaterally.
“As a result we have moved the U.S. forces in northern Syria out of the path of potential Turkish incursion to ensure their safety. We have made no changes to our force presence in Syria at this time."
Confusion has set in over Trump’s dealing with US troops in Syria and whether or not the President agrees with Turkey’s actions.
Initially, Trump had green-lighted Turkey’s wish to invade Syria and weed out the Kurdish forces in an attempt to establish a “safe zone”.
Trump had even spoken with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s president, about the issue, with Mr Erdoğan having made his intentions clear.
The White House, on recalling the conversation between the two leaders in a statement, said: "Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into northern Syria.
"The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the Isis territorial 'Caliphate', will no longer be in the immediate area."
The US-backed Kurds labelled this as a “stab in the back” by Trump.
Then, a day later, Trump took to Twitter to spell out how he would “obliterate” the Turkish economy should it overstep the mark in its invasion.
In the tweet, he wrote: “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, 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!).
"They must, with Europe and others, watch over.”
His initial announcement that US troops would leave Syria was met with outrage by several top figures from within US politics.
Hillary Clinton took to social media to express her thoughts, claiming Trump to have “betrayed” the Kurds.
She wrote: “Let us be clear: The President has sided with authoritarian leaders of Turkey and Russia over our loyal allies and America’s own interests.
“His decision is a sickening betrayal both of the Kurds and his oath of office.”