Oct 11 2019

Trump gave Turkey ‘very clear red light’ against Syria incursion – officials

U.S. President Donald Trump made it very clear that he opposed a Turkish military operation in Syria during a phone call on Sunday with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, State Department officials said.

Reports that Trump gave his consent to Erdoğan to start the incursion are false, and the Turks are not asserting that Trump did, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity late on Thursday.

“This is something that somebody has invented because we gave them a very clear red light,” one official said. “I have been involved in those red lights and I know the president did that on Sunday.”

Trump has faced criticism in Congress for allowing Turkey to enter Syria to battle the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and to unilaterally establish a safe zone there. The SDF, dominated by a Kurdish force that Turkey labels as terrorists and a threat to its security, has been the most important U.S. ally in defeating Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.

“This (the Turkish operation) was a very big mistake and it has very big implications for all of our security,” the official said. “I don’t know of anybody who isn’t upset with it.”

Trump is now monitoring the situation on the ground and is focused on securing a swift ceasefire to end the fighting, one official said.

“If Turkey acts in a way that is disproportionate, inhumane, or otherwise goes beyond the lines that the president has in his own mind, the United States is willing to impose significant costs,” the official said.

“As he (Trump) said in his tweets, these would be diplomatic and particularly financial, economic.  He cites repeatedly his actions with Turkey back in August, September of 2018 concerning Parson Brunson, which had a significant effect on the Turkish economy.”