Hours ago, Turkey started an offensive into North Eastern Syria:

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies have launched their military operation into northeastern Syria, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, adding that the offensive aimed to eliminate a “terror corridor” along the southern Turkish border.

Erdogan said the offensive, dubbed “Operation Peace Spring”, would aim to eliminate threats from the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and the Islamic State militants, and enable the return of Syrian refugees in Turkey after the formation of a “safe zone” in the area.

Days ago, President Trump tweeted:

As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over...

....the captured ISIS fighters and families. The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. It is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory. THE USA IS GREAT!

In a newer tweet, Trump wrote:

We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters. Likewise our relationship with Turkey, a NATO and Trading partner, has been very good. Turkey already has a large Kurdish population and fully....

....understands that while we only had 50 soldiers remaining in that section of Syria, and they have been removed, any unforced or unnecessary fighting by Turkey will be devastating to their economy and to their very fragile currency. We are helping the Kurds financially/weapons!

Has President Trump made any public statements on Turkey's offensive into Syria since it has begun? I know it seems very recent, but many others have made statements already:

Senator Graham tweeted:

I urge President Trump to change course while there is still time by going back to the safe zone concept that was working.

The German Foreign Office tweeted:

Foreign Minister @HeikoMaas: We strongly condemn Turkish offensive in Northeast #Syria. Turkey risks further destabilization of the region & #ISIS resurgence. We call on #Turkey to end the offensive & pursue its security interests peacefully.

Given that bombs have a real impact very quickly, it seems time is of the essence. Given Trump's previous statements warning Turkey, I am wondering if President Trump has (already) made statements on this (either himself or through his representatives or officials) or reacted in another way to the offensive. What is the first official reaction from the president or his administration?

I did check his Twitter accounts (@realDonaldTrump and @potus) but there was no statement there (yet). CNN cites a US official:

A US official familiar with operations in Syria confirmed that Turkey conducted strikes in Tal Abyad in northern Syria and the border town of Ras al-Ayn.

In this question, I am looking for a reaction that goes beyond confirming the offensive is indeed taking place.

  • 3
    His butt-covering "warning" was kind of incoherent (when has he previously destroyed Turkey's economy?), so finding something that aligns with or contradicts it will be a bit of a Rorschach test, I think. Oct 9, 2019 at 16:47
  • 10
    But did Trump really ever warn Turkey not to invade Syria or attack the SDF? I don't see any specifics in that tweet, except for a request not to release ISIS prisoners. Maybe I can't properly interpret his "great and unmatched wisdom"?
    – divibisan
    Oct 9, 2019 at 16:57
  • 5
    @divibisan I've added a more recent tweet. By stating they have 'in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds', calling them 'special people' and 'wonderful fighters' and saying they're helping them financially and with weapons, it's implied (in my view) that they're not supposed to be bombed by Turkey. I'd say that's waging war against an ally of the United States. But indeed, I don't have unmatched wisdom, only one person can have that or it wouldn't be unmatched, right?
    – JJJ
    Oct 9, 2019 at 17:04
  • 2
    @PoloHoleSet: When has Trump destroyed any economy? Except those of some of his companies, of course.
    – jamesqf
    Oct 9, 2019 at 17:19
  • 2
    If he was really being strategic, he would have Tweeted that his wisdom was "unimpeachable." Oct 9, 2019 at 17:57

1 Answer 1


According to news.com.au:

Mr Trump issued a brief statement overnight saying that America “does not endorse this attack”.

The Independent has that in more detail:

The comment was made in a statement released by the White House, in which he claimed Turkey is committed to ensuring the safety of civilians, in spite of concerns that the country will target Kurdish fighters who helped fight against the Isis insurgency there.

"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," the statement says. "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."

He continues: "Turkey has committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place—and we will hold them to this commitment. In addition, 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. We expect Turkey to abide by all of its commitments, and we continue to monitor the situation closely."

Pompeo also went on record to say that the US did not approve the latest Turkish offensive beforehand. As the BBC summarized:

In an interview with US broadcaster PBS, Mr Pompeo defended Mr Trump's surprise decision to pull back US forces, adding that Turkey has a "legitimate security concern" and "a terrorist threat to their south".

He said reports the US had allowed Turkey to launch the offensive were "just false".

"The United States didn't give Turkey a green light," he said.

The BBC also summarized this bit from Trump

The president later told a press conference the Turks and Kurds "have been fighting each other for centuries", and said that Kurdish fighters "didn't help us in the Second World War, they didn't help us with [the D-Day landings in] Normandy".

But "later" is relative to an earlier post of Trump, not to Pompeo's statement. So that appears to be the last thing that Trump said publicly (on the matter) before the current Turkish offensive began. In the same statement Trump also compared the Turkey-Kurds situation with Israel vs Palestinians.

But I'm not quite sure on when this last bit was said, because the Guardian gives another sequence of events:

Gülnur Aybet, one of the Turkish president’s senior advisers, told CNN: “President Trump and President Erdogan have reached an understanding over precisely what this operation is.” Aybet added that Trump “knows what the scope of this operation is”.

Hours after the bombing began, Trump issued a statement mildly criticising the offensive aimed at Kurdish forces, which for nearly five years fought alongside the US against Isis.

“The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea,” the statement said, before noting: “There are no American soldiers in the area.”

In remarks later, Trump presented the invasion as a historical inevitability, saying Turks and Kurds “have been fighting each other for centuries”. And he downplayed the US debt to Kurdish fighters, saying: “They didn’t help us in the second world war, they didn’t help us with Normandy … but they’re there to help us with their land.”

So beside the White House statement, which seems undisputedly released after the Turkish operation began, we also have this Trump press conference that some put after the beginning of the operation, although I'm having doubts that the press would not have pounced on Trump with questions about the actual operation had it been known to them to be ongoing already. YMMV.

It looks like the Guardian had the correct sequence after all. There's a newer BBC article which gives a more explicit timeline

Timeline of US statements

6 Oct - White House releases statement announcing northern Syria withdrawal after Trump reportedly spoke to Erdogan

7 Oct - After criticism from his party, Trump defends exit. "Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out", he tweets. He also threatens to "obliterate" Turkish economy

8 Oct - Trump argues Turkey is a strong ally to US and Nato, tweeting, "but in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people"

9 Oct - Pompeo says US did not authorise Turkish attack, saying: "The United States didn't give Turkey a green light"

10 Oct - Trump tells reporters the Kurds "didn't help us in the Second World War. They didn't help us with Normandy, as an example." Later he says "I hope we can mediate" between the Kurds and Turkey. Other options, he says, include US military deployment or "financially doing some very strong things to Turkey".


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