Pompeo: Trump to discuss political solution for Syria in meeting with Erdoğan

Pompeo: Trump to discuss political solution for Syria in meeting with Erdoğan
© Aaron Schwartz

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoReport: Pompeo had secret meeting with GOP donors in London The shifting impeachment positions of Jonathan Turley The Hill's Morning Report - Dem dilemma on articles of impeachment MORE said Monday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrumps light 97th annual National Christmas Tree Trump to hold campaign rally in Michigan 'Don't mess with Mama': Pelosi's daughter tweets support following press conference comments MORE will discuss Turkey’s incursion into northeast Syria in an upcoming meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and push for a political solution that protects “all of those in Syria, not just the Kurds.” 

Pompeo's remarks come as Turkey’s month-old offensive in northeastern Syria continues to fuel a humanitarian crisis, with over 200,000 displaced amid allegations of war crimes committed by Turkish-backed Islamist forces.

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The United Nations says at least 92 civilians have been killed by execution, snipers, ground conflict and air strikes. 

Turkey launched its military push, dubbed "Operation Peace Spring," against Kurdish forces allied with the U.S. that they allege are part of the terrorist-designated Kurdistan Workers Party shortly after Trump announced a pullback of U.S. troops in northern Syria.

“We will talk about what transpired there and how we can do our level best collectively to ensure the protection of all of those in Syria, not just the Kurds, but everyone in Syria,” Pompeo said Monday, answering questions from cadets at The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, following a speech commemorating Veterans Day.

Erdoğan is due to meet with Trump at the White House on Wednesday.

The secretary added that the U.S. is still working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — the U.S.-trained fighting force made up of Syrian Kurdish fighters, Arabs and Christians — in the mission to counter the Islamic State.  

“We’re still working with the SDF, the relationships are great. We have State Department officials on the ground with the SDF, even as we sit here today, working alongside them to continue the counter ISIS campaign," he said.

Kurdish forces provided key intelligence to the U.S. in the raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last month, but have said those operations were delayed by the Turkish offensive. 

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have criticized the Trump administration as giving a green light to Turkey to attack America’s Kurdish allies by withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria, and are calling on the president to cancel his meeting with Erdoğan. 

Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien said Sunday the White House is taking seriously allegations of war crimes, genocide and ethnic cleansing by Turkey and its proxy forces. 

“We’re very concerned about those issues, the war crimes issues,” O’Brien said on CBS's "Face the Nation." 

“We're watching them. We're monitoring it very closely. There is no place for genocide, for ethnic cleansing, for war crimes in the 21st century. The U.S. won't stand by for it, and we've made that position very clear to the Turks.”