The U.S. envoy to Syria has authored a scathing memo rebuking the Trump administration over its withdrawal of troops from northern Syria prior to a Turkish invasion of the region.
The New York Times reported Thursday that William Roebuck wrote in the memo that the Trump administration could have explored a number of options — including economic sanctions, military patrols and diplomatic options — to potentially dissuade a Turkish assault on U.S.-allied Kurdish forces. However, the president declined to invoke any of those strategies.
“It’s a tough call, and the answer is probably not,” Roebuck wrote of whether the actions would have been successful in dissuading Turkey, according to the Times. “But we won’t know because we didn’t try.”
“One day when the diplomatic history is written people will wonder what happened here and why officials didn’t do more to stop it or at least speak out more forcefully to blame Turkey for its behavior: an unprovoked military operation that has killed some 200 civilians, left well over 100,000 people (and counting) newly displaced and homeless because of its military operation," Roebuck reportedly added.
Roebuck went on to describe the Turkish military efforts to drive Kurdish forces out of an area where the Turkish government plans to resettle up to 1 million Syrian refugees nothing short of "ethnic cleansing."
“Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria, spearheaded by armed Islamist groups on its payroll, represents an intentioned-laced effort at ethnic cleansing,” he wrote, according to the Times.
He reportedly went on to recommend that the Trump administration "speak out more forcefully, publicly and privately, to reduce the blame placed on the U.S. and to highlight the Turkish responsibilities for civilian well-being.”
Roebuck's memo represents some of the most vocal criticism of the president's decision to withdraw troops from inside the administration, which was already facing searing opposition to the move from both parties in the House and Senate.
The administration recently removed sanctions placed on Turkey after it agreed to a Russian-brokered cease-fire agreement with U.S.-allied Kurdish forces.