President Donald Trump’s top diplomat in Syria harshly rebuked the administration’s withdrawal in a private memo, reportedly saying Turkish-backed militias committed “war crimes and ethnic cleansing.”


The New York Times obtained a private memo written by William Roebuck, the U.S. envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, rebuking the pullout in Syria and questioning if blunter threats of economic action could have deterred the Turkish invasion into northern Syria


In an unusually blunt critique, Mr. Roebuck said the political and military turmoil upended the administration’s policy in northern Syria. The administration’s actions left Syrian Kurdish allies abandoned, resulted in ceding territory the Kurds had controlled to Syria, Turkey and Russia, and opened the door for a possible Islamic State resurgence.


“Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria, spearheaded by armed Islamist groups on its payroll, represents an intentioned-laced effort at ethnic cleansing,” Mr. Roebuck wrote in the memo, describing the actions as “what can only be described as war crimes and ethnic cleansing.”


Roebuck declined to comment to The New York Times on Thursday.


Trump’s decision to abruptly pull military forces from northern Syria and effectively abandon Kurdish allies in the region to Turkish forces has drawn widespread condemnation from both Republicans and Democrats.


“One day when the diplomatic history is written,” Roebuck wrote. “People will wonder what happened here and why officials didn’t do more to stop it or at least speak out more forcefully to blame Turkey for its behavior: an unprovoked military operation that has killed some 200 civilians, left well over 100,000 people (and counting) newly displaced and homeless because of its military operation.”




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