Turkey’s military operation in Syria has begun just three days after President Trump ordered U.S. troops to withdraw from the area. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the beginning of the operation Wednesday morning, saying he was going to “eliminate the threat of terrorism” from his country. There were immediate reports of Turkish airstrikes in the area. The Kurdish-led administration issued a “general mobilization” call along the border earlier in the day, making a clash between the two forces all but inevitable. The Turks have been spoiling for a fight with the Kurds in Syria because Ankara considers them to be terrorists. An assault became possible after Trump unexpectedly announced that American troops would withdraw from Syria—a move that essentially abandoned America’s longtime allies in the fight against ISIS.
Later on Wednesday, Trump released an official statement condemning the inevitable offensive. “This morning, Turkey, a NATO member, invaded Syria. The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea. There are no American soldiers in the area. From the first day I entered the political arena, I made it clear that I did not want to fight these endless, senseless wars—especially those that don’t benefit the United States,” Trump wrote. “... Turkey is now responsible for ensuring all ISIS fighters being held captive remain in prison and that ISIS does not reconstitute in any way, shape, or form.” Despite Turkey’s decision to invade Syria against American wishes, Trump said he expects “Turkey to abide by all of its commitments,” but is monitoring the situation closely.