- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 6, 2019

The White House gave Turkey a greenlight Sunday evening on both an upcoming military operation in northern Syria and the custody of captured Islamic State terrorists.

In a statement, press secretary Stephanie Grisham said President Trump had spoken with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the two men had discussed Turkey’s “long-planned operation into Northern Syria.”

“The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area,” Ms. Grisham said.

The White House did not specify the nature of Turkey’s military operation, but Ankara has long been suspicious of the region’s Kurds and fought a lengthy guerrilla war against Kurdish groups within its own territory. The Kurds, especially those living in Iraq and Iran, have long been one of the few groups in the region consistently allied with the U.S.

The Sunday night statement also expressed frustration with how other NATO allies had handled, or not handled, captured ISIS fighters and also put that issue in Ankara’s hands.

Ms. Grisham said the U.S. had “pressed France, Germany, and other European nations, from which many captured ISIS fighters came” but “they did not want them and refused.”

Because the U.S. “will not hold them for many years,” she explained, “Turkey will now be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years,” she said.

Kurdish militias in Syria, who have fought alongside U.S. Special Forces in the anti-ISIS war there, now hold many Islamic State prisoners.

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