Turkey to invade northern Syria, says White House

Turkish-backed Syrian rebel fighters gather near the Syrian Turkish border as Ankara threatened an offensive against Kurdish militias it considers terrorists

Joining other Republicans in Congress, both of Alaska's senators are criticizing President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw US troops from Syria's northern border with Turkey.

The withdrawal, announced by the White House late on Sunday, was swiftly condemned by a bipartisan group of lawmakers over concerns that it could open the way for a Turkish strike on Kurdish-led forces long allied with Washington.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK - listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the USA and the European Union - has been responsible for the deaths 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

The move would clear the way for an expected Turkish assault and essentially abandon Kurdish fighters who fought alongside American forces to defeat the Islamic State.

In his remarks, the USA president said there were just 50 troops in the area where Ankara was planning to carry out the operation and did not want them to get hurt.

In a written statement Monday, Pentagon chief spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said the USA does not endorse a Turkish military operation in Syria and will not support it. Hoffman says the Pentagon will work with allies and coalition partner nations to reiterate to Turkey that its potential military operation in Syria would have "possible destabilizing consequences" for Turkey and for the region. Erdogan seemed to have rejected a joint U.S.

The Syrian Kurdish force has pledged to fight back, raising the potential for an eruption of new warfare in Syria.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on all parties in northeastern Syria "to exercise maximum restraint", spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Also on Tuesday, Trump defended his decision to pull United States troops in Syria ahead of a "long-planned" Turkish operation, even as Republican critics and others opposed his idea.

Turkey considers Kurdish fighters in Syria terrorists and links them to a decades-old insurgency in Turkey.

The Turkish government plans to invade Northern Syria and take into custody all ISIS fighters captured over the past two years. Last year Turkey launched an attack on the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin, leading to the displacement of some 300,000 people.

US officials told The Associated Press that Turkish troops on Tuesday were massed along the border in apparent preparation for an incursion across the border.

Zarif urged Turkey to respect Syria's integrity and sovereignty, the report said. The execution of that plan included dismantling some Kurdish defensive positions on the Syrian side of the border.