Pompeo rejects idea that the United States abandoned Kurds

Pompeo rejects idea that the United States abandoned Kurds

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoIran lays foundation for second nuclear plant: report Pompeo knocks Iran's treatment of UN nuclear inspector Reagan statue unveiled near site where he called for Gorbachev to 'tear down' Berlin Wall MORE defended the cease-fire agreement in Syria that he and Vice President Pence spearheaded, denying allegations that the U.S. abandoned Kurdish allies in the region. He continued saying he is “confident” that the stop in violence will hold. 

Pompeo told Politico in an interview on the secretary of State’s plane that the U.S. “still has the commitments” from leaders involved in the cease-fire agreement brokered Thursday, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, despite reports that violence among extremists has increased in northern Syria.

“There’s not perfect command and control,” Pompeo told Politico. “You have irregular forces in the region, as well. I don’t know precisely what this is, but our sense is, the political commitments that were made yesterday will end up being successful. We also have reporting that fighting forces in and around the two towns — that the [Syrian Democratic Forces] are actually beginning their departure. So the key elements of the cease-fire look to be taking effect.”

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“You always want it to happen faster, cleaner in a more straightforward way. But we have some additional reporting that’s not public that suggests that we think the path is still clear to being successful. But look, we’ll have to work. We’ll have to work to implement, to monitor, to make sure that it actually happens,” he continued.

The cease-fire, negotiated over four hours, will force Turkey to suspend its operations for 120 hours to allow Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a designated safe zone along the Turkish and Syrian border. Pence said the U.S. will not impose any further sanctions on Turkey once a permanent cease-fire is in effect, and Pence confirmed to Politico that the U.S. used a new round of sanctions in the negotiations.

Some have criticized the plan, arguing that Turkey received more than it gave in negotiations, Politico reported. However, Trump administration officials have rejected the allegations and said their goal is still to stop the violence in northeast Syria.

Pompeo told the outlet that that U.S. did not abandon the Kurdish forces and “even today, we are still engaged with the [Syrian Democratic Forces] fighting ISIS in Syria.”

He added that President TrumpDonald John TrumpThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Judd Gregg: The big, big and bigger problem MORE would rather use a political solution instead of a military one to bring an end to the violence and that the U.S. was not “in a position” to stop Turkish forces moving into Syria.

“The leaders of a sovereign nation, Turkey, decided to cross into another sovereign nation, Syria, and conduct an incursion with thousands of forces,” Pompeo said. “The United States said we were going to take down the violence, we want to save lives, we want to protect the Kurds from the threat from these Turkish forces. And if we’re ultimately able to get the cease-fire implemented, we will have successfully achieved that.”

Earlier this morning, gunfire could still be heard in the region despite Turkey's agreement to halt attacks.