'Disaster In The Making': Turkish Military Advance On Syria As US Pulls Out
Video obtained by Syrian TV appeared to show vehicles moving in the distance as Turkish military advanced into Hasakeh, northeastern Syria on Monday evening.
The United States began pulling troops back from northeastern Syria's border, effectively giving Turkey a green light to move into the area, after President Donald Trump's surprise announcement on Sunday (October 6) that he was withdrawing U.S. forces.
Many Congress members from both parties quickly condemned the move, a departure from the deep partisan divide that has opened at the U.S. Capitol, worsened by House Democrats' decision to open an impeachment investigation of the Republican president.
The U.S. withdrawal will leave Kurdish-led forces in Syria that have long allied with Washington vulnerable to a planned incursion by the Turkish military which brands them terrorists.
It is a major policy shift that was denounced as a "stab in the back" by Kurdish-led forces, who have been Washington's most capable partners in fighting Islamic State in Syria.
Turkey has two main goals in northeast Syria: to drive the Kurdish YPG militia which it deems a security threat away from its border, and to create a space inside Syria where two million Syria refugees currently hosted in Turkey can be settled.
It had been pushing the United States to jointly establish a "safe zone" extending 20 miles (32 km) into Syrian territory, but repeatedly warned it could take unilateral military action after accusing Washington of dragging its feet.
Trump on Monday launched a harsh attack on NATO ally Turkey, threatening to destroy its economy if Ankara takes the planned military strike in Syria too far even though the U.S. leader himself has opened the door for a Turkish incursion.
On Monday, several Republicans better known for their strong backing of Trump also expressed outrage over the decision. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called the situation "a disaster in the making" that showed the United States is an unreliable ally.
Graham said he would introduce a Senate resolution opposing the plan and asking for a reversal. He also said he and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen planned to introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if it invades Syria and will call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces.
Later on Monday, however, Trump threatened to destroy Turkey's economy if it took its planned military strike too far.