Fox News Reporter Says Trump 'Went Off Script' During Turkey Call, 'Essentially Greenlighted' Military Operation

Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported Wednesday that sources say President Donald Trump "went off script" and "essentially greenlighted" the Turkish military operation in Syria during his phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a decision that has shocked the U.S. military.

Three days after Trump announced a startling decision to move U.S. military forces away from the Turkish border, Turkey launched airstrikes today on suspected positions of Syrian Kurdish forces in Ras al Ayn, in northeastern Syria. Kurdish soldiers have been crucial U.S. allies in the battle against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).

"The bloody civil war in Syria has been going on for more than eight years now and has become the breeding ground for a proxy war between Russia and Iran, and the United States and Turkey," Fox News host Shepard Smith said on Wednesday afternoon. "Russia and Iran prop up dictator Bashar al-Assad, who uses chemical weapons to murder his own people. U.S. troops have been fighting side-by-side with those Kurds against the Islamic State."

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Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin on Wednesday reported that sources say President Donald Trump "went off script" during his call with Turkey and "essentially greenlighted" Turkey's invasion into northeastern Syria. Fox News/Screenshot

In a statement released by the White House after news of the invasion began making headlines, Trump denounced the offensive, calling it a "bad idea," but reiterated that he stands by his decision to pull U.S. soldiers from the area because he doesn't want to "fight these endless, senseless wars."

Griffin reported live on Fox News that "well-placed" sources told her that Trump "went off script from what his national team gave him as talking points for his phone conversation with the Turkish president."

"Shock continues to reverberate through the U.S. military that the White House has essentially greenlighted this Turkish operation during that conversation," she continued. "As one senior military source put it to me, 'a lot of people will die.' A complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria is now all but assured."

The sources also told Fox News that the "Turkish operation is much broader than originally believed, far wider and deeper than expected," Griffin reported. "This Syrian Democratic forces, the Syrian allies of the U.S., are requesting urgent air support from the U.S. military and the creation of a no fly zone. We learnt that President Trump has ordered the U.S. military not to help."

She went on to explain that U.S. military commanders warned Trump and the White House that their decision to pull the troops "could lead to the ethnic cleansing of the Kurdish fighters, who fought along U.S. forces to defeat ISIS," but the current administration "ignored the advice" of these officials.

The invasion has prompted a new wave of criticism against Trump from some of his usually-staunch GOP allies. Senator Lindsey Graham earlier today urged the president to "change course while there is still time," and said he prays for "our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump administration."