Sunday, 24 March, 2019

U.S. will protect Kurds, no timetable for Syria withdrawal

Trump Goes Wobbly on Threats Trump 'slowing down' planned withdrawal from Syria, senator says
Leonard Rios | 03 January, 2019, 06:21

Trump announced his Syria pullout by saying 'We've won against ISIS, ' even though thousands of the group's fighters are thought to remain in Syria after the collapse of their 'caliphate'.

However, Trump modified that decision, following a December 26 visit to Iraq, where he was briefed by U.S. commanders, as Sen. "I campaigned against the NEVER ENDING WARS, remember!" the president tweeted.

Military and security experts said Trump was overstating the case, and warned against a hasty withdrawal.

But after saying troops would come home right away, and that the Islamic State group was defeated, he didn't give any specific timetable.

"They can do what they want there, frankly", Trump said of Iran's presence in Syria.

Meanwhile, a senior Israeli source said after the meeting that Israel got "almost everything it asked for" when Pompeo granted "seven out of eight" requests made Netanyahu during their meeting.

The report also comes after a senior Israeli official said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked Trump to stagger the planned withdrawal of USA military forces from Syria over a lengthy period of time, rather than an immediate pullout.

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On Monday, the Republican president said the United States was "slowly sending" troops home - a markedly different tone than he used in his initial announcement of a withdrawal on December 19.

Defense Secretary James Mattis unexpectedly resigned after the announcement, and Brett McGurk, the US's top envoy in the fight against ISIL, announced he would be leaving his post earlier than expected due to the decision.

Critics not only warn of a resurgence of IS, but worry that the American exit is a betrayal of USA -backed Kurdish forces in Syria and leaves them vulnerable to an attack from Turkish forces. If the Kurds - which Ankara considers terrorists - were to actually leave the area, there would be "no job left" there for the Turkish military, Erdogan said.

The source added that Netanyahu came out of the meeting with Pompeo feeling that Israel has the ability to influence certain aspects of US policy, and the two countries are now working on plans to make the American troop pull-out as non-disruptive for Israeli security as possible.

He said: "I shouldn't be popular in Europe". Lindsey Graham (R, South Carolina) explained on Sunday. Trump went out of his way to explain his continuing commitment to the Kurds.

"I said, 'You know, I never said that I'm going to rush out, '" the President told Fox News Channel in an interview that ran on Monday. He said they would discuss how to best confront security challenges facing allies & partners in the region, "including the next phase of the fight against ISIS".

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