U.S. says it will stand aside as Turkey moves into Syria

Trump and Erdogan spoke by phone, but the White House didn’t confirm Turkey’s announcement that they will meet next month.Turkey said Sunday that President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pictured during a meeting in Paris last year, agreed to meet in Washington next month. The White House didn’t comment on the announcement.Turkish Presidential Office / EPA file – Oct. 7, 2019, 5:56 AM GMT+2 – By Alex Johnson NBC-NEWS

The White House said Sunday night that Turkey would soon begin operations in northeastern Syria to resettle Syrian refugees — and that U.S. forces wouldn’t be there to help or stop them. In a statement issued late Sunday, the White House said Turkey would “soon be moving forward” with its operation in northern Syria and that the United States wouldn’t be involved.

The statement was issued after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone with President Donald Trump earlier on Sunday.

The statement didn’t mention the Turkish government’s announcement earlier in the day that Trump and Erdogan had agreed to meet in Washington next month.

During the phone call, Erdogan expressed frustration with what Turkey sees as the failure of the United States to implement an agreement to establish a so-called safe zone east of the Euphrates River, Reuters reported.

On Saturday, Turkey signaled its intention to begin operations, saying an incursion was “imminent” in the region, where U.S. troops have been seeking to broker an agreement between Turkey and the Syrian Kurds.

The U.S. statement made it clear that the United States wouldn’t interfere, saying U.S. forces “will no longer be in the immediate area.”