Former top United States general in Middle East slams Trump's Syria decision

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Trump

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Trump

Turkey's ultimate target in northern Syria was to end the existence of all terrorist groups and to facilitate the return of Syrians to their own country by providing a "peace corridor" within the territorial integrity of Syria, the chair of parliament's National Defense Committee Ismet Yilmaz said addressing the lawmakers.

A US troop withdrawal and Turkish assault on the area risks re-igniting fighting in a corner of Syria only recently stabilized and where sleeper cells of the Islamic State group continue to operate.

After President Bashar Assad's forces abandoned areas in the north at the height of the war to defend areas closer to his seat in Damascus, the Kurds slowly carved out a semi-autonomous region and gained a degree of independence previously unthinkable.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, says it is still trying to talk Turkey out of invading northeastern Syria.

Trump meanwhile denied he had abandoned the Kurdish forces, the most effective USA partners in fighting Daesh (ISIS) in Syria. "Today there is only one party and that is our red (Turkish) flag". But the USA backs the YPG and credits the Kurds for helping defeat ISIS in Syria.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said Tuesday that "all indications" point to a Turkish attack on its border areas and called on the global community to help avoid a possible humanitarian disaster.

In series of tweets from the verified Twitter account of the SDF, the General Command said the border areas of northeast Syria "are on the edge of a possible humanitarian catastrophe".

"This attack will spill the blood of thousands of innocent civilians because our border areas are overcrowded", the SDF said.

In its call for mobilization, the local Kurdish authority known as the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria also urged the worldwide community to live up to its responsibilities as "a humanitarian catastrophe might befall our people" in the region.

Trump defended his sudden decision to pull back USA troops from northern Syria, clearing the way for an expected Turkish military invasion against Kurdish forces.

The Kurdish-led forces have denounced the major US policy shift as a "stab in the back".

US President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the US has not "abandoned" its Kurdish allies inside Syria, continuing to give a mixed message to Turkey.

In 2016 when Ankara launched an offensive against the Islamic State group west of the Euphrates river, Syrian government forces captured rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest and once commercial center.

The motion came ahead of Turkey's planned military operation in the east of the Euphrates in northern Syria.

Turkey is backing the Free Syrian Army, the major opposition force in Syria that was formerly supported by the US.

The Kurds have always been considered as among Washington's most reliable partners in Syria and in the broader campaign against ISIS in the region.

In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, members of the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, hold a position on a building in the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019.

Trump later cast his decision to pull back USA troops from parts of northeast Syria as fulfilling a campaign promise to withdraw from the "endless war" in the Middle East.

"Where Turkey's security is concerned, we determine our own path but we set our own limits", Oktay said. "Our message to global community is clear".

Trump declared that it would be the responsibility of Turkey and other countries to deal with IS prisoners. The decision drew criticism from Democrats and a rebuke from some of Mr Trump's fellow Republicans in Congress.

For the second issue, they said Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) leader Fetullah Gulen's residence in the US was defined by James Jeffrey, a former ambassador to Ankara, as "embarrassing" and added: "How, many Turks ask, can the USA harbor such a despicable figure?"

Mr Trump's warning on Turkey's economy appeared aimed at placating critics who accused him of abandoning the Syrian Kurds by pulling out United States forces.

CNN's Samantha Beech, Sharif Paget, Isil Sariyuce, Jennifer Hansler, Alex Rogers and Ryan Browne contributed reporting.

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