In a Twitter message on Sunday morning, Donald Trump quoted United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper discussing the current situation in northeastern Syria. Turkey launched an invasion to drive out the Kurdish population living there after Trump announced, on October 6, that he would pull U.S. troops from the region.
“The ceasefire is holding up very nicely,” Trump quoted Esper as saying. “New areas being resettled with Kurds. U.S. soldiers are not in combat or ceasefire zone. We have secured the Oil.”
But reporters traveling with Esper — as the Defense Secretary makes his first official trip to Afghanistan — said on their own Twitter accounts that they had no knowledge of the quote attributed to Esper by Trump. These reporters claim that when they spoke to Esper, he made no mention of Kurds being “resettled” or that the U.S. had “secured the oil.”
In fact, in an initial version of the tweet, which Trump has since deleted, he referred to Esper as “Mark Esperanto.” The term esperanto was the name given to a constructed language that was once intended to be spoken internationally, facilitating communication between nations.
“I’m not sure who Trump is referring to, but I’m traveling with Defense Secretary Esper and can’t recall the quote Trump is using,” Reuters correspondent Idrees Ali wrote on Twitter. “While speaking with us Enroute to Afghanistan, Esper also made no mention of new areas being resettled with Kurds or oil.”
Wall Street Journal correspondent Nancy Yousseff, also traveling with Esper, said that she, too, “did not hear Esper mention resettled Kurds or oil. Or a name change.”
Trump first made the claim that the U.S. had “secured the oil” in a Friday tweet, later repeating the point in an exchange with reporters in which Trump said, “we’ve taken control of the oil in the Middle East,” as The Inquisitr reported.
In fact, video released online showed that in one major Syrian city which had reportedly served as a conduit for oil shipments, Russian forces had seemingly taken control of a base there. Said base had reportedly been abandoned by U.S. troops.
While there have been no public reports of Kurds displaced by the Turkish invasion being “resettled,” a top Kurdish commander — Mazlum Abdi — said on Saturday that despite the cease-fire agreement, attacks by Turkey have continued. Abdi claimed that Kurds continued to suffer casualties due to the attacks, as The Inquisitr reported.
The name of Trump's Secretary of Defense is Mark Esper. Not Esperanto. pic.twitter.com/LFrNf7zep3
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 20, 2019
Abdi also claimed that Turkey was carrying out “ethnic cleansing” of the Kurdish people in northeastern Syria.
While there is no record of Esper claiming that Kurds are being “resettled” or that the U.S. had “secured the oil,” Esper did say on Saturday that U.S. troops that had been pulled out of northeastern Syria were now in the process of redeployment to western Iraq, according to NBC News.
Esper’s statement would appear to contradict the claim made by Trump on Wednesday, that he had ordered the troop withdrawal because, “it’s time to bring our soldiers back home.”
As NBC News reported, “They are not coming home.”