- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 20, 2019

On Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the cease fire hammered out following Turkey’s incursion into a Kudish-controlled area along its border with Syria seems to be holding.

“I got a report within the last half hour from my senior leaders who indicate there is relatively little fighting, little sporadic small arms fire and a mortar or two,” Mr. Pompeo said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulus”

Mr. Pompeo pushed back against reports that Turkey was claiming victory in the ceasefire negotiations he and Vice President Mike Pence undertook.

“It sure didn’t feel that way when we were negotiating. It was a hard fought negotiation,” he said. “We achieved the outcome that President Trump sent us to achieve.”

There has been bipartisan opposition to the withdrawal of American military troops from those who say the U.S. is abandoning the Kurds, a stalwart ally in the struggle against ISIS. But Mr. Pompeo said he was confident the Trump Administration’s efforts to “crush” ISIS will continue.

“We will continue to make sure that we take the primary effort, which is to make sure we keep the American people safe from the threats from radical Islamic terrorism wherever we find it,” he told Mr. Stephanopoulus.

President Trump believes the U.S. has accomplished a “significant” part of the mission in the area and wants the American forces to “come home,” Mr. Pompeo said. But, they are not coming home anytime soon. The U.S. military personnel who are withdrawing from Syria will be assigned to western Iraq to continue a counter-ISIS mission and to help Iraq, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters on his trip to the region.

Mr. Pompeo said the Trump administration is serious about countering Iran’s influence in Syria and took a jab at the Obama administration’s efforts on the subject.

“The efforts to push back against Iran are real and continuous, unlike what the last administration did that picked Iran as its strategic security partner in the Middle East,” he said.

Work still continues to ensure stability along the Turkish-Syrian border, but Mr. Pompeo said he remains optimistic.

“And now we make sure that the commitments that were made in that (cease-fire) statement are honored,” he told Mr. Stephanopoulos.

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