Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

US Moves in Syria Irk Russia, Turkey

Donald Trump announced last month that 2,000 US troops would be withdrawn Donald Trump announced last month that 2,000 US troops would be withdrawn
Leonard Rios | 14 January, 2019, 05:46

The withdrawal benefits Syrian President Bashar Assad and his worldwide backers, Russian Federation and Iran, who are primed to move into the region to fill a vacuum left behind by the Americans.

Critics of Trump's decision, including within his own Republican camp, have said that a precipitous withdrawal would shatter USA policy in Syria and allow ISIS to rebuild.

"Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements", he added.

Earlier this week, US National Security Advisor John Bolton laid out conditions for the pullout, including the defeat of the ISIS in Syria and guarantees for the safety of Washington's Kurdish allies in the campaign, who have been threatened with an imminent offensive by Turkey.

USA troops have been involved in Syria's war since 2014 when the first elite force arrived in the country to advise Kurdish-led fighters who were involved in battles against the Islamic State group. That earned a stiff rebuke from President Tayyip Erdogan.

"Before us we have Manbij on one side and the east of the Euphrates on the other", Akar said, underscoring the scale of a potential operation.

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Pompeo's remarks follow tensions between the United States and Turkey over the fate of Washington's allies in the fight against ISIS.

But, he added, "we also know that those are fighting alongside of us for all this time deserve to be protected as well". But in coming weeks, the contingent of about 2,000 troops is expected to depart even as the White House vows to keep pressure on the Islamic State group.

The Kurdish groups that control the north have turned to Moscow and Damascus in the hope of striking a political deal that will stave off Turkey and shield their autonomy in the north. A US troop pullout leaves the Kurds exposed to Turkish attacks from one side, and Syrian government troops on the other. "After all, the Kurds are an integral part of Syrian society", Zakharova said.

Turkey regards the Kurd-dominated YPG units as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization.

The US-led coalition, which also includes countries such as France and Britain, was formed in mid-2014 to counter the expansion of the Islamic State group after it proclaimed its self-styled "caliphate". Syria's deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday he was optimistic about renewed dialogue with the Kurds.

The Pentagon stressed it would not telegraph its troop movements or give timelines for when they may leave Syria.

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