Trump says US troops to deploy to other areas before leaving Syria

US President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Oct. 21, 2019, in Washington. (AP)
Updated 21 October 2019

Trump says US troops to deploy to other areas before leaving Syria

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Monday said he did not want to leave any American troops in Syria, but that US forces leaving the country now would deploy elsewhere before eventually returning to the United States.
Trump, speaking at a meeting of his Cabinet at the White House, also said it appeared a five-day pause negotiated last week in the Turkish offensive against US-allied Kurdish-led fighters in northern Syria was holding despite some skirmishes, and that it could possibly go beyond Tuesday’s expiration.
“I’m sure if we needed a little extension that would be happening,” he told reporters at the meeting.
Turkey began its cross-border operation following Trump’s decision two weeks ago to withdraw US troops from the area. USofficials said then that those troops were expected to be repositioned in the region. Some of them could go to Iraq.
A small number of US troops would stay “in a little different section to secure the oil,” as well as in “a totally different section of Syria near Jordan and close to Israel,” Trump said on Monday.
“That’s a totally different mindset,” Trump said, adding: “Other than that, there’s no reason” for US troops to remain. “They’re going to be sent initially to different parts,” he added. “Ultimately, we’re bringing them home.”
The American withdrawal has been criticized by US lawmakers, including some of Trump’s fellow Republicans, as a betrayal of Kurdish allies who for years have helped the United States fight the Islamic State.
On Monday, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the Pentagon was considering keeping some US troops near oilfields in northeastern Syria alongside Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to help deny oil to Daesh militants.
Trump defended the withdrawal decision saying, “we never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives.”
“We helped the Kurds. And we never gave the Kurds a commitment that we’d stay for the next 400 years and protect them,” he added.
Trump also said he was fulfilling a campaign promise to disengage from international conflicts as part of his “America first” agenda as he seeks re-election next year.
“I want to bring our soldiers back home,” he said. “I have to do what I got elected on, and I have to do what I think is right.”


Wife of White Helmets co-founder Le Mesurier banned from leaving Turkey

Updated 21 min 53 sec ago

Wife of White Helmets co-founder Le Mesurier banned from leaving Turkey

  • Winberg will not be allowed to leave the country, as long as the investigation into her husband’s death continues
  • The preliminary autopsy reports suggest suicide was the most likely cause of death, with the final report set to be completed next week

ISTANBUL: Turkey has imposed a travel ban on Emma Winberg, the wife of James Le Mesurier, founder of the Mayday Rescue Foundation, who was found dead in Istanbul on Monday.
Speculation abounds over the circumstances of Le Mesurier’s death, with questions over whether the former British intelligence officer was murdered or committed suicide.
Though Turkish police sources believe Le Mesurier jumped to his death from his flat, his wife, 39, has not been allowed to return home because of Turkish law.
Le Mesurier had reportedly told his wife of suicidal thoughts two weeks before the incident. His wife notified the police that he was in a deteriorating psychological state and taking anti-depressants and medication for stress. His hospital records are also being examined.
Umur Yildirim, an attorney specialized in criminal justice, said that according to Turkish law, it was possible for Turkish authorities to impose a travel ban on people not of Turkish nationality of importance to an open investigation.  
Winberg will not be allowed to leave the country, as long as the investigation into her husband’s death continues.
Based on reports, Le Mesurier’s residence was only accessible via fingerprint, and in testimony released by Turkish authorities, Winberg claimed the pair had taken sleeping pills at around 4 a.m.the night before. She was woken by police after they were notified of a body lying outside the building.
The preliminary autopsy reports suggest suicide was the most likely cause of death, with the final report set to be completed next week. The investigation continues.
Le Mesurier was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) by the UK government in 2016.