Turkey is amassing tanks and armored vehicles in cities along its southern border, following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's vow to take over the fight against ISIS in Syria when American troops withdraw. Erdogan also recently pledged to ramp up strikes against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in the embattled country, and local reports say some Turkish troops have already crossed into Syria.
What are the details?
According to the Daily Mail, Turkey has built up forces in its border cities of Kilis and al-Rai, and the country's foreign minister says they will begin moving into Syria as soon as possible amid anticipation of the imminent pullout of roughly 2,000 American military personnel.
On Sunday, President Donald Trump announced that he was in contact with Erdogan over the U.S. troop withdrawal, and voiced his confidence in Turkey's ability to "eradicate whatever is left of ISIS in Syria."
I just had a long and productive call with President @RT_Erdogan of Turkey. We discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of U.S. troops from the area. After many years they are coming home. We also discussed heavily expanded Trade.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2018
President @RT_Erdogan of Turkey has very strongly informed me that he will eradicate whatever is left of ISIS in Syria....and he is a man who can do it plus, Turkey is right “next door." Our troops are coming home!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2018
Local media said Turkish military vehicles were being amassed along the country's southern border Monday, and some troops had already crossed into Syria, AFP reported.
Washington's relationship with Ankara has improved in recent days, according to Bloomberg. In the past week, the U.S. State Department notified Congress of a proposal to sell Patriot missiles to Turkey, and Erdogan extended an invitation for President Trump to visit Turkey next year.