Trump to Discuss Political Solution for Syria in Meeting With Erdogan, Pompeo Says

November 12, 2019 Updated: November 12, 2019

President Donald Trump is set to push for a political solution to protect Syria in an upcoming meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Nov. 11.

Trump will meet with Erdogan at the White House on Nov. 13, when they will discuss various “aspects of bilateral relations, as well as regional and global issues,” especially Turkey’s month-old offensive in northeastern Syria, dubbed “Operation Peace Spring,” according to Turkey’s Directorate of Communication,

The military operation, which began Oct. 9, aimed to establish a safe zone that would force Kurdish fighters away from northern Syria, secure Turkey’s borders, and aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees.

Following hours of negations on Oct. 17, Erdogan reached a deal with the United States to suspend the operation for five days to allow Kurdish troops to withdraw, which was overseen by the United States.

However, the military operation against Kurdish fighters has so far left over 200,000 displaced, and Turkish-supported Islamist forces have been accused of committing war crimes.

At least 92 civilians have been killed since the start of the offensive, 49 of which were victims of airstrikes, ground-based strikes, sniper fire, and executions carried out by opposing Turkish-affiliated armed groups and Kurdish armed groups, the United Nations says.

Following a speech to commemorate Veterans Day at the Military College of South Carolina, Pompeo told reporters, “We will talk about what transpired there and how we can do our level best collectively to ensure the protection of all of those in Syria, not just the Kurds, but everyone in Syria.”

Pompeo added that the United States will continue to work with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which include Syrian Kurdish fighters, Arabs, and Christians who have been trained by the United States to fight against ISIS.

“We’re still working with the SDF, the relationships are great. We have State Department officials on the ground with the SDF, even as we sit here today, working alongside them to continue the counter-ISIS campaign,” he said.

Meanwhile, Erdogan said he plans to raise the issue of America’s unfulfilled pledge to remove the Kurdish militia YPG from the Syrian border region.

“Unfortunately, we cannot say at the moment that the terrorist organization has withdrawn from the area. They are still there,” Erdogan told reporters, before leaving Ankara for the United States, according to an official press release.

“We will also discuss the latest situation in Operation Peace Spring. And we will convey that the U.S. must approach and treat the YPG/PYD terrorist organization just like Daesh [ISIS] and other terrorist organizations,” Erdogan said.

The Turkish president said he would also speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone, following the Turkey and Russia deal reached on Oct. 22, in which Russian military police and Syrian border guards agreed to enter the Syrian–Turkish border and remove YPG back to 30 kilometers (about 18 miles) from the border within 150 hours.

“We will once again raise the prices Turkey has paid and its determination in the fight against Daesh,” Erdogan noted. “We have begun to repatriate Daesh members. And a process of panic have kicked in at those places. It was us who have been worrying so far. Now, let them worry and decide what to do,” he said.

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