Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Trump lifts sanctions on Turkey | ‘Small number’ of troops to remain by Syrian oil fields | Defense official’s impeachment testimony delayed five hours after Republicans storm secure room Iraqi defense minister: US troops leaving in four weeks Trump announces he’s lifting sanctions on Turkey MORE on Thursday excoriated Turkey’s “unwarranted” incursion into northern Syria, saying it placed progress made in the region against the Islamic State at risk, according to The Associated Press.
Speaking at the German Marshall Fund, Esper said, “Turkey put us all in a very terrible situation,” and that its closer relationship with Russia since the U.S. pullout was “heading in the wrong direction.”
In the speech in Brussels, Esper also said China and Russia remained increasing threats to the U.S. and said that China, in particular, is striving to use its international influence to shape other nations’ economies and policies, saying countries should understand that before entering relationships with the nation.
President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchedule for additional depositions in impeachment inquiry revealed Sondland attorney disputes key portions of Taylor testimony: report Impeachment inquiry might be public by mid-November: report MORE initially threatened Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with sanctions that would “destroy” the Turkish economy if Ankara pressed ahead with the incursion, but on Wednesday announced that the U.S. will lift sanctions after Turkey agreed to a cease-fire with Kurdish forces in the region.
Esper has previously said the U.S. remains in talks for a plan to leave a small residual force in the eastern part of the nation to secure oil facilities against Islamic State forces. Trump has also agreed to keep 200 to 300 U.S. troops stationed at the Al Tanf garrison in the southern part of the country.
Esper is scheduled Thursday to meet with Turkey defense minister, Hulusi Akar, at the meeting of NATO defense chiefs.
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