Pompeo defends ceasefire worked with Turkey on northern Syria

WASHINGTON, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended Sunday the five-day ceasefire negotiated with Turkey to suspend military operations in northern Syria, saying it has “worked so far.” “Vice President (Mike Pence) and I traveled to Ankara after Turkey had made its decision against the President’s (Donald Trump) desire to make an incursion into Syria, and we put out a joint statement, which we think will really save lives,” Pompeo told ABC network.

He affirmed, “it’s worked so far. There’s much work to be done to continue to implement but we’re optimistic.” On the counter-IS campaign, Pompeo said “I’m proud of the work that our team has done under President Trump’s leadership, not only encountering (IS) in Syria, but encountering (IS) all around the world.” “We’ve been serious about it. We’ve been thoughtful. We’ve been strategic, and we will continue to make sure that we take the primary effort, which is to make sure we keep the American people safe from the threats from radical Islamic terrorism wherever we find it,” he added.

He affirmed, “I’m very confident that this administration’s efforts to crush (IS) will continue.” He stressed, “this administration came in and worked seriously alongside the SDF forces and our allies as well to build out a counter-(IS) coalition to take down that caliphate.” “Now the President believes we’ve accomplished a significant part of our mission and he wants our folks to come home, and we’re beginning to work on that,” he remarked.

For his part, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters enroute to Afghanistan “overall the cease-fire generally seems to be holding. We see a stabilization of the lines, if you will, on the ground.” On the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, he noted “the US withdrawal continues at pace from northeast Syria, we want to be very deliberate and very safe as we go about it. And it’s happening through a variety of means.” Asked if the objective remains to remove all US troops from Syria within weeks, Esper responded “all forces except, keeping some forces at At Tanf garrison in the south.” “The current game plan is for those forces to re-position into western Iraq,” he indicated,”one is to help defend Iraq, and two is to perform a counter-(IS) mission as we sort through the next steps.” He reiterated, “that’s the current game plan. Things could change between now and whenever we complete the withdrawal. But that’s the game plan right now.” For his part, Trump tweeted “Ending endless wars!”

Source: Kuwait News Agency