Syrian forces take over bases abandoned by US: report

Syrian forces take over bases abandoned by US: report
© Getty Images

The Syrian army has taken over military bases in northeastern Syria that were abandoned by U.S. forces, Reuters reported Russian state TV as saying on Wednesday. 

The announcement comes after Kurdish fighters in the area announced this weekend that they struck a deal with Damascus to team up with Syrian troops to fend off Turkey's invasion at the northern border.

The alliance appeared to be in response to the U.S.’s decision to withdraw troops from the area, which lifted the chief deterrent to Turkey’s offensive in the region that was launched last week. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The U.S. had over 1,000 troops deployed in the region to work with the Kurdish YPG, which leads the Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against ISIS.

Turkey views Kurdish forces as linked to an anti-Turkish insurgency and has long sought to cut down their fighting power near the Turkey-Syria border. 

Turkish-aligned forces are currently pushing their advance toward the city of Manbij, a key flashpoint west of the Euphrates River. Reports also surfaced of heavy bombing of the Syrian border town of Ras al Ain, where a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, a group largely made up of Kurdish fighters, reported an ongoing battle was taking place.

Lawmakers expressed alarm at the Kurds’ new alliance with the Russian and Iranian-backed government in Damascus, warning the deal was further proof that withdrawing U.S. forces in the area only benefited America’s adversaries.

“If President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' MORE withdraws all our forces from Syria he will pave the way for ISIS reemergence, abandon a valuable ally in the Kurds, and make Iran the biggest winner,” Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMcConnell hopes Senate impeachment trial 'not too lengthy a process' Hillicon Valley: Progressives oppose funding bill over surveillance authority | Senators call for 5G security coordinator | Facebook gets questions over location tracking | Louisiana hit by ransomware attack Prisons chief: FBI investigating whether 'criminal enterprise' played role in Epstein death MORE (R-S.C.), a frequent Trump defender and foreign policy hawk, tweeted Tuesday in response to an article saying the Pentagon is mulling withdrawing all U.S. troops from Syria. 

The administration has defended its military withdrawals so far, saying leaving troops in the area would have put them at risk. 

“Due to Turkey's irresponsible actions, the risk to U.S. forces in northeast Syria has reached an unacceptable level. We are also at risk of being engulfed in a broader conflict,” Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperTalks stall on defense costs with South Korea Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Stopgap spending bill includes military pay raise | Schumer presses Pentagon to protect impeachment witnesses | US ends civil-nuclear waiver in Iran The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Trump floats testifying in impeachment hearing MORE said in a statement, adding that "a small footprint" of U.S. forces will remain at the al-Tanf garrison in southern Syria "to continue to disrupt remnants of ISIS."

Washington has pushed Turkey and the Kurds to reach a ceasefire, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Wednesday he would only end Turkey’s offensive if Kurdish forces surrender their weapons and pull out of a planned “safe zone.”