Oct 14, 2019

EU member states unanimously "condemn" Turkish military operation in Syria

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes European Council President Donald Tusk prior to their meeting at the Elysee Presidential Palace on October 14, 2019. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

The leaders of all 28 member states of the European Union endorsed a statement on Monday "condemning" Turkey's military assault on Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria, warning that it will seriously undermine the stability of the region, cause extensive civilian suffering and potentially lead to the resurgence of ISIS.

Why it matters: Turkey is a key EU partner and a member of NATO. The European Council is calling on all member states to "immediately halt arms exports" to Turkey — a step that France and Germany have already taken — and will meet later this week to coordinate a further response.

Go deeper: Syria's Assad sends troops to key town near Turkish border

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Trump confirms near-total Syria withdrawal while warning of costs for Turkey

Trump and Erdogan in 2017. Photo: Brenadan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump has confirmed that nearly all U.S. troops in Syria will be leaving the country while warning Turkey of repercussions for its offensive against Kurdish forces who had been key U.S. allies.

  • In a lengthy statement, Trump said the U.S. forces leaving Syria will remain in the region to guard against an ISIS resurgence. He also announced a suspension of trade talks with Turkey, a hike in steel tariffs to 50%, and potential "powerful additional sanctions" against those guilty of "serious human rights abuses."
Go deeperArrowOct 14, 2019

Syria's Assad sends troops to key town near Turkish border

Locals welcome Syrian regime forces as they arrive at the western entrance of the town of Tal Tamr in the countryside of Syria's northeastern Hasakeh province on Monday. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad deployed troops near the border with Turkey to stave off the Turkish offensive on Monday, state media reports — hours after the primarily Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces struck a deal with his regime.

Why it matters: The move raises concerns of a potential battle between Turkey and Syria. The Kurdish fighters, who were allied with the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State, entered the previously unthinkable alliance with Assad after President Trump decided to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria ahead of the military action announced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Go deeperArrowOct 14, 2019

Years of muddled U.S. strategy worsened fallout in Syria

The Syrian town of Ras al-Ain during the Turkish offensive, Oct. 17. Photo: Ozan Kose/AFP via Getty Images

The turmoil let loose in Syria this week stems in part from the absence of a clear U.S. strategy to counter terrorism and negotiate a diplomatic solution to the country's bloody civil war.

The big picture: President Trump’s hamfisted statesmanship and disregard for national security expertise notwithstanding, America's Syria policy from the Obama administration onward has instilled doubts among Middle Eastern and European allies, leading even NATO member Turkey to decisively cross the U.S.

Go deeperArrowOct 21, 2019