Pompeo discusses United States drawdown in Syria with Turkish counterpart

13 January, 2019, 18:25 | Author: Myra Gill
  • US soldiers gather for a brief during a combined joint patrol rehearsal in Manbij Syria

Confirmation of the first withdrawals comes amid confusion over plans to implement President Donald Trump's pullout order and threats from Turkey to attack the Kurds, who have been America's partners on the ground in the war against ISIS in Syria.

"Nothing has changed", an anonymous defense official said.

Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman for the coalition fighting ISIS, confirmed earlier in the day to The Associated Press that "the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria" was underway. "Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troop movements".

More than 2,000 US troops are serving in Syria.

According to the statement, the Polish diplomat, for his part, said that the summit's agenda was not anti-Iranian and that Warsaw's stance on the issue was different from recent statements made by U.S. officials. For years Trump has criticized USA deployment in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Turkish defense minister made this statement after a meeting with Chief of the General Staff Yasar Guler, Head of the National Intelligence Organization Hakan Fidan and Land Forces Commander Umit Dundar.

Last week, President Erdogan angrily rejected calls by US National Security Adviser John Bolton for the Kurdish fighters to be protected. That drew a rebuke from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who called his comments "a serious mistake".

Speaking to journalists in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, Mr Pompeo said he was "optimistic" a way could be found to protect Syrian Kurds while allowing Turks to "defend their country from terrorists" following a United States pull-out from Syria.

National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have both visited countries in the region to explain the shift in USA policy. Pompeo's visit is part of a whistlestop regional tour aimed at reassuring United States allies after President Donald Trump's shock decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria. It also led to major criticism that the US was abandoning its local Kurdish allies amid Turkish threats of an imminent attack. "They help. They show what reality is, they provide [people to] reunite with families", she said.

"In this regard, establishing dialogue between the Kurds and Damascus takes on particular significance".

Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades.

Trump's decision to leave Syria, which he initially said would be rapid but later slowed down, shocked USA allies and angered the Kurds in Syria, who are vulnerable to attack by Turkey. According to the Yemeni government and the Saudi-led Arab Coalition, the Iran-backed Houthi rebels broke the truce hundreds of times and have yet to withdraw their forces from Hodeidah's ports.

"They are taking their differing views of what the USA should do in Syria - a question that normally would be robustly hashed out inside the Situation Room - and instead entrepreneurially trying to present their own preferences as "Trump Policy" on the world stage".


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