What Happened: U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of almost the entire contingent of U.S. ground forces — upward of 1,000 troops — from northern Syria, AFP reported Oct. 13, citing the U.S. Defense Department. The move reportedly came after an ongoing Turkish offensive in the region pushed deeper than U.S. officials had expected.
Why It Matters: The withdrawal could pave the way for a potential expansion of the Turkish incursion into northeastern Syria after Ankara launched an offensive earlier this week. Meanwhile, the move could force the Kurdish-aligned Syrian Democratic Forces to turn to Russia or the Syrian government to protect their territory from the Turkish advance.
Background: On Oct. 9, Turkey launched its offensive, which includes airstrikes and ground troops, targeting mostly Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria after Trump said the United States would withdraw some of its assets from the area.
- Turkey Races the Clock as Its Ground Forces Enter Syria (Oct. 10, 2019)
- An Impatient Turkey Gets Ready to Enter Northeastern Syria (Oct. 9, 2019)
- Syria: The U.S. Will Step Aside for Turkey's Push Against the SDF (Oct. 7, 2019)