US Marks 18 Years of Afghanistan War by Pulling Back Troops in Syria, Giving Turkey Control of ISIS Prisoners

Hours after the Pentagon confirmed that it was pulling troops from the border in northern Syria, reports claimed Turkish forces had started targeting Kurdish forces with airstrikes.

Reports are claiming that leaders from the Taliban met with the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan in Pakistan. But there is no indication that they are re-starting peace talks after Trump announced that the US was pulling out of those talks last month.

At the time, Trump claimed that it was because of ongoing violence from the Taliban in the region, but it is important to note that in the first quarter of 2019, the US and its allies killed more civilians than the Taliban did in Afghanistan. 

Meanwhile, Turkey has warned about a planned incursion into Syria, but President Trump claimed the reason he is pulling back troops is because the US has successfully defeated ISIS in the region, and they are leaving policing of the area to Turkey. 

Trump took to Twitter, where he defended the decision by writing that the US has been in Syria for far too long and “it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars,” and to “bring our soldiers home.”

Turkey has openly classified the Kurdish forces—which have received substantial backing from the US—as a “terrorist group.” The Kurds control the region along Syria’s northern border, and that is where Turkey has been building up troops for months now. Now, in addition to pulling US troops back, Trump is also turning over the control of around 10,000 captured ISIS fighters to Turkey. There is some concern that Turkey will essentially “re-purpose” those ISIS fighters and use them to go after the Kurds in Syria.

In response to backlash from Republicans who are warning that by pulling troops out of northern Syria, it will allow Turkey to massacre the Kurds, which have been a strong US ally in the fight against ISIS, Trump again took to Twitter, where he wrote “if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy.

Now, the problem here is that we don’t know what Trump’s “unmatched wisdom” considers to be “off limits” in the region, yet he is essentially opening the playing field for Turkey to take control—but telling Turkey that they can only take control in the way Trump deems acceptable, without sharing actual details of what that looks like.

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Rachel Blevins is a journalist who aspires to break the left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives.

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