WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of about 1,000 US troops from northern Syria, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Thursday, telling Trump that it would be smart not to engage in heavy fighting on the Turkish-Syrian border. France and Germany called for a halt to the Turkish operation against Kurdish fighters.
"The SDF has reached an agreement with the Syrian regime and Russia," he said in an interview with Fox News on Sunday, adding that US forces in northern Syria were in a "very bad situation."
Those who dragged America into Middle East wars are still trying to get them to fight, and they don't realize the gravity of their wrong decisions, he said, adding that Turkey and the Kurds have been fighting each other for many years, and Washington has been watching the situation closely.
The military operation launched by Ankara with the participation of Syrian armed opposition factions in the north of Syria for the fifth day in a row.
The Reuters news agency quoted US officials that Washington is considering plans to withdraw most of its troops from northern Syria within days, at a faster pace than expected, as Ankara stepped up its military operation.
US officials said Washington was considering several options for withdrawing its troops from northern Syria, noting that a full withdrawal could take two weeks or more.
France and Germany
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a halt to the Turkish military operation against Kurdish fighters in Syria, warning that the attack would cause intolerable humanitarian repercussions and the return of the Islamic State.
The French presidency said in a statement that President Macron will hold an emergency defense meeting of the Council of Ministers to discuss options for the Turkish attack in northeastern Syria.
In a related development, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he would seek a European ban on the sale of arms to Turkey, in response to its attack on Kurdish fighters in Syria, who enjoy political and military support from many Western countries, led by America.
Several European countries have announced the suspension of arms sales to Turkey, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Finland.