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US News 'It's clear the US has been sidelined.' Turkey and Russia agree to joint patrols in Syria

04:45  23 october  2019
04:45  23 october  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

Russia, Turkey seal power in northeast Syria with new accord

  Russia, Turkey seal power in northeast Syria with new accord ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Russia and Turkey reached an agreement Tuesday that would cement their power in Syria, deploying their forces across nearly its entire northeastern border to fill the void left by President Donald Trump's abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces. ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Russia and Turkey reached an agreement Tuesday that would cement their power in Syria, deploying their forces across nearly its entire northeastern border to fill the void left by President Donald Trump's abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces.

WASHINGTON – Russia and Turkey agreed Tuesday to take joint control of a vital strip of territory along the Syria - Turkey border, a victory for Moscow as the U . S . military " It is clear that the United States has been sidelined ,” Menendez said, calling Trump' s policy a "capitulation" to Turkey .

' It ' s clear the US has been sidelined .' Trump's Syria pullout, aiding Russia and Turkey , is when America stopped leading the world. Trump’s actions empowered American adversaries ranging from the Islamic State militant group to Iran, Russia , Turkey and the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad

(Video by Reuters)

WASHINGTON – Russia and Turkey agreed Tuesday to take joint control of a vital strip of territory along the Syria-Turkey border, a victory for Moscow as the U.S. military continued its withdrawal from Syria. 

The pact between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey's leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, came shortly before a U.S.-brokered cease-fire – which had temporarily halted a Turkish attack on Kurdish forces in Syria – expired Tuesday afternoon. 

Residents of northeast Syria city pelt departing US troops

  Residents of northeast Syria city pelt departing US troops AKCAKALE, Turkey (AP) — Angry over the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, residents of a Kurdish-dominated city pelted departing American military vehicles with potatoes Monday as they drove through. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said U.S. troops will stay in eastern Syria to protect Kurdish-held oil fields for at least the coming weeks and he was discussing options to keep them there. A video by the Kurdish news agency showed a convoy of armored vehicles driving through the northeastern city of Qamishli. People in the street hurled potatoes at the vehicles, shouting, "No America," and "America liar," in English."Like rats, America is running away," one man shouted in Arabic.

Joint Russian - Turkish patrols along the M4 from 15 March. Despite the agreed ceasefire, Turkey The area was intended to act as buffer between the two sides, with clear lines of control, but fighting has continued in the zone. Russia and Turkey have diametrically opposed objectives in Syria .

Putin said Russia and Turkey had agreed to uphold "sovereignty and territorial integrity" of Syria The Syrian Kurds have an incredible amount at stake, and much remains to be seen how the joint Shoigu said that US had less than two hours to comply with a ceasefire agreement reached last week

The Putin-Erdogan deal gives Russia a crucial foothold in the Middle East amid a power vacuum created by the U.S. withdrawal. Under the agreement, Russia and Turkey agreed to work together to remove Kurdish fighters from a 20-mile zone in northern Syria. 

"Both Russia and Turkey got exactly what they want," Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said during a hearing on the Trump administration's policy Tuesday. 

During that hearing, President Donald Trump's top envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, faced a barrage of pointed questions from senators in both parties on the president's decision to withdraw from Syria, which many have said was a betrayal of the Kurdish fighters who helped America defeat the Islamic State's caliphate in the country. 

Trump Followed His Gut on Syria. Calamity Came Fast.

  Trump Followed His Gut on Syria. Calamity Came Fast. Trump Followed His Gut on Syria. Calamity Came Fast.Rarely has a presidential decision resulted so immediately in what his own party leaders have described as disastrous consequences for American allies and interests. How this decision happened — springing from an “off-script moment” with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, in the generous description of a senior American diplomat — probably will be debated for years by historians, Middle East experts and conspiracy theorists.

Ankara and Moscow have agreed that Syrian Kurdish fighters will withdraw from territory near the Turkish border and plan to conduct joint patrols in Kurdish fighters will have another 150 hours from Wednesday at noon to clear out of the areas mentioned in the agreement, a translated version

Syrian and Russian forces will deploy in northeast Syria to remove Kurdish YPG fighters and their weapons from the border with Turkey under a deal “ Turkey got the safe zone it wanted all this time.” Some 300,000 people have been displaced by Turkey ’ s offensive and 120 civilians have been killed

"It is clear that the United States has been sidelined,” Menendez said, calling Trump's policy a "capitulation" to Turkey. 

Gallery: Tensions in Syria (Photo Services)

“Russia and the murderous Assad regime are calling the shots," said Menendez, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "We don’t even have clarity about whether and where U.S. troops might remain."

Turkey agrees to Syria ceasefire: Vice President Mike Pence

  Turkey agrees to Syria ceasefire: Vice President Mike Pence Vice President Mike Pence met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey's capital Ankara on Thursday.Pence met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday to push for the ceasefire.

Deal between Turkey and Russia puts offensive in Syria on hold. The abrupt withdrawal of U . S Those Kurds had been America' s most vital allies in the fight against ISIS in Syria for almost six Williams said she had already seen Russian troops moving into areas that were controlled by the

Turkey had threatened to relaunch its offensive if the withdrawal was not carried out. A senior Kurdish official, Redur Khalil, said that even after the Kurdish pullout Meanwhile, Russia has stepped into the void to strengthen its role as a power broker in Syria . Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and

Jeffrey acknowledged he was "not personally consulted" before Trump announced his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria. Lawmakers said that demonstrated the "chaotic and ad hoc" nature of Trump's policy in the region.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, pressed Jeffrey on Trump's Oct. 6 phone call with Erdogan, in which the Turkish president told Trump he planned to invade Syria. Trump said then that he would remove American troops stationed on the Turkish-Syria border, which many said gave Erdogan the green light to attack the Kurds. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, listens to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. Welcoming the Turkish leader in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday, Putin said their meeting is very important in the current tense situation in Syria. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP) © Provided by The Associated Press Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, listens to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. Welcoming the Turkish leader in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday, Putin said their meeting is very important in the current tense situation in Syria. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

"Erdogan basically said, 'I'm coming in, get out of the way' and America blinked," Romney said.

Jeffrey pushed back, saying Trump warned Erdogan not to invade Syria and did not give him a green light to attack the Kurds. He said American forces in Syria were never given a mission to defend the Kurds against an attack from Turkey, which is a NATO ally.

Bloodshed, betrayal and a huge battlefield: 24 hours in northeastern Syria

  Bloodshed, betrayal and a huge battlefield: 24 hours in northeastern Syria I cannot remember a sequence of events, bloodshed and geopolitical machinations in a single day that involved so many countries and so many people. In a single day. We were on the road again, had been for four days, but as each hour passed, our ability to move safely in Kurdish northeast Syria lessened.We overtook cars, trucks, flatbeds, and pick-ups laden with belongings, but there were fewer and fewer. Almost anyone who could, had already left the border lands between Syria and Turkey.On the side of a road, near a truck stop, we came across five lorries, they were full of families.

He said Erdogan's decision came despite "warning after warning" and "incentive after incentive" from the Trump administration to stave off such a move.

Syrian government forces carry a national flag as they man a checkpoint near the town of Tal Tamr, north Syria, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. Russia and Turkey announced an agreement Tuesday to jointly patrol almost the entire northeastern Syrian border after the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters, cementing the two countries' power in Syria in the wake of President Donald Trump's abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces. (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad) © Provided by The Associated Press Syrian government forces carry a national flag as they man a checkpoint near the town of Tal Tamr, north Syria, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. Russia and Turkey announced an agreement Tuesday to jointly patrol almost the entire northeastern Syrian border after the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters, cementing the two countries' power in Syria in the wake of President Donald Trump's abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces. (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad)

Kurdish forces controlled much of northeastern Syria until two weeks ago, when Turkey invaded and began pushing them south. Under the U.S.-brokered cease-fire, the Kurdish fighters agreed to pull back deeper into Syria, and Turkey agreed to stop its assault.

If the terms of the cease-fire are ratified by all sides, Trump will lift sanctions he imposed on Turkey earlier this month and Turkey will not advance further into Syria. 

Jeffrey defended the cease-fire, saying it has limited Turkey's territorial gains in Syria – and the chaos that unleashed. But he conceded that hundreds of Kurdish fighters have died in the two-week-long incursion and that ISIS fighters have taken advantage of the mayhem. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shake hands after their joint news conference following their talks in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. Erdogan says Turkey and Russia have reached a deal in which Syrian Kurdish fighters will move 30 kilometers (18 miles) away from a border area in northeast Syria within 150 hours. (Sergei Chirikov/Pool Photo via AP) © Provided by The Associated Press Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shake hands after their joint news conference following their talks in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. Erdogan says Turkey and Russia have reached a deal in which Syrian Kurdish fighters will move 30 kilometers (18 miles) away from a border area in northeast Syria within 150 hours. (Sergei Chirikov/Pool Photo via AP)

He estimated that "dozens" of ISIS fighters – who had been captured by the Kurds – have escaped amid the upheaval created by Turkey's incursion. 

ISIS Reaps Gains of U.S. Pullout From Syria

  ISIS Reaps Gains of U.S. Pullout From Syria American forces and their Kurdish-led partners in Syria had been conducting as many as a dozen counterterrorism missions a day against Islamic State militants, officials said. Those same partners, the Syrian Democratic Forces, had also been quietly releasing some Islamic State prisoners and incorporating them into their ranks, in part as a way to keep them under watch. That, too, is now in jeopardy.

Turkey's invasion has "scrambled" the situation in Syria, undercut U.S. efforts against ISIS and "brought in the Russians and the Syrian regime forces in a way that is really tragic for everybody involved,” Jeffrey said. But Turkey itself, he said, has not gained much for its incursion.

The U.S. envoy said 10,000 captured ISIS fighters remain in Syria and their detention could be jeopardized "if things goes south" with the cease-fire. 

A view of the town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian border, hours before a five-day cease-fire in northern Syria between Turkish troops and Syrian Kurdish fighters was set to expire, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey and Russia have reached a deal under which Syrian Kurdish fighters will move 30 kilometers away from a border area in northeast Syria within 150 hours. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) © Provided by The Associated Press A view of the town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian border, hours before a five-day cease-fire in northern Syria between Turkish troops and Syrian Kurdish fighters was set to expire, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey and Russia have reached a deal under which Syrian Kurdish fighters will move 30 kilometers away from a border area in northeast Syria within 150 hours. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

About three hours before the cease-fire deadline, Gen. Mazloum Kobani Abdi, the top commander of the Syrian Kurdish forces, sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence saying he had withdrawn all his forces from a Turkish-controlled "safe zone" inside Syria.

Jeffrey expressed confidence that the Kurdish withdrawal was complete and the temporary cease-fire would become a permanent halt in the fighting.

Earlier Tuesday, Erdogan said 1,300 Syrian Kurdish fighters had yet to vacate a stretch of the border, as required under the deal.

Syrian government forces deploy near the town of Tal Tamr, north Syria, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. Russia and Turkey announced an agreement Tuesday to jointly patrol almost the entire northeastern Syrian border after the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters, cementing the two countries' power in Syria in the wake of President Donald Trump's abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces. (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad) © Provided by The Associated Press Syrian government forces deploy near the town of Tal Tamr, north Syria, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. Russia and Turkey announced an agreement Tuesday to jointly patrol almost the entire northeastern Syrian border after the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters, cementing the two countries' power in Syria in the wake of President Donald Trump's abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces. (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad)

Erdogan warned Tuesday that if the Kurdish fighters did not withdraw, “our offensive will continue from where it left off, with a much greater determination.”

Syria says Turkish-led forces attacked its troops

  Syria says Turkish-led forces attacked its troops BEIRUT (AP) — Turkish forces and their allies attacked Syrian government troops in northeastern Syria on Thursday, killing some of them, and they also clashed with Kurdish-led fighters, the state news agency in Damascus and a war monitoring group said. The fighting underscored the risks of violence as multiple and often opposing armed forces jostle for new positions in the tight quarters of the northeastern border zone. Most worrisome has beenThe fighting underscored the risks of violence as multiple and often opposing armed forces jostle for new positions in the tight quarters of the northeastern border zone.

“There is no place for the (Kurdish fighters) in Syria’s future. We hope that with Russia’s cooperation, we will rid the region of separatist terror,” he said.

Trump has faced sustained blowback on Capitol Hill over his decision earlier this month to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria. Critics say that move gave Erdogan a green light to invade Syria and attack the Kurds. Turkey views the Kurds in Syria as terrorists.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., introduced a resolution that urges Trump to stop the U.S. withdrawal and calls on the president to “rethink” his invitation to Erdogan to visit the White House.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speak during their meeting in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. Welcoming the Turkish leader in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday, Putin said their meeting is very important in the current tense situation in Syria.( Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool ) © Provided by The Associated Press Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speak during their meeting in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. Welcoming the Turkish leader in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday, Putin said their meeting is very important in the current tense situation in Syria.( Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool )

“It recognizes the grave consequences of U.S. withdrawal, the rising influence of Russia, Iran and the Assad regime, and the escape of more than 100 ISIS-affiliated fighters detained in the region,” McConnell said in a Senate floor speech Tuesday. “We specifically urge the president to end the drawdown” in Syria.

Russia has stepped into the void left by America's withdrawal, offering to patrol the border region and serve as a buffer between the Kurds and the Turks. The Kurds are hoping Russian and Syrian forces can keep Turkey's military at bay and help them maintain some autonomy in the region they carved out for themselves during Syria’s civil war. 

Putin is a staunch ally of the Assad regime, which has used chemical weapons to attack his own people amid Syria's horrific civil war.

While Erdogan and Putin met in Sochi to discuss the Syrian crisis, the Trump administration continued to send mixed signals about its policy and next steps. Trump has zigzagged between ordering a full withdrawal of U.S. forces to announcing he would leave a residual force there. 

a close up of a map: SOURCE Reuters, as of Oct. 16; ESRI © USA TODAY SOURCE Reuters, as of Oct. 16; ESRI

Trump said Monday that a "small" number of U.S. troops will remain in Syria, a shift that came amid blistering criticism from lawmakers in both parties who have denounced his previous decision to withdraw American forces.

“I’m trying to get out of wars. We may have to get in wars, too,” Trump said in a rambling, 70-minute Cabinet meeting on Monday.

Jeffrey told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the administration was still reviewing its options on a residual military presence in northeastern Syria, although Trump has committed to leave a small number of troops in the south. 

McConnell did not say when the Senate would vote on his nonbinding resolution, which he touted as "stronger” than a measure passed by the House last week.

In this photo released on the official Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency, Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, speaks with Syrian troops during his visit to the strategic town of Habeet, in the northwestern province of Idlib, Syria, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. On Tuesday, Assad called the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a © Provided by The Associated Press In this photo released on the official Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency, Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, speaks with Syrian troops during his visit to the strategic town of Habeet, in the northwestern province of Idlib, Syria, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. On Tuesday, Assad called the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a "thief" during his first visit to territory captured from Turkey-backed rebels in the northwestern province of Idlib. (Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency via AP)

But the GOP Senate leader also expressed concerns about a more forceful response: bipartisan legislation that would impose stiff new sanctions on Turkey. Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., introduced a bill last week that would target Erdogan’s personal finances and sanction the Turkish armed forces, among other entities.

“We need to think extremely carefully before” imposing sanctions on a NATO ally, McConnell said. He said it’s not clear if such economic penalties would weaken Erdogan inside Turkey or “rally the country to cause.” He said the impact of such a bill could also hurt American companies and U.S. allies whose economies are closely intertwined with Turkey’s.

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Syria says Turkish-led forces attacked its troops .
BEIRUT (AP) — Turkish forces and their allies attacked Syrian government troops in northeastern Syria on Thursday, killing some of them, and they also clashed with Kurdish-led fighters, the state news agency in Damascus and a war monitoring group said. The fighting underscored the risks of violence as multiple and often opposing armed forces jostle for new positions in the tight quarters of the northeastern border zone. Most worrisome has beenThe fighting underscored the risks of violence as multiple and often opposing armed forces jostle for new positions in the tight quarters of the northeastern border zone.

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