Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

US official says withdrawal from Syria has begun

Turkey to attack Syrian Kurds even if US doesn't withdraw FM ‘We Don’t Take Orders From Bolton’: Pentagon Plans Syria Withdrawal
Jeannette Daniel | 13 January, 2019, 18:23

The threats have intensified in recent days as the USA begins the withdrawal process from Syria on President Donald Trump's orders.

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a US resident, entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2 seeking documents that would have allowed him to marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.

Turkish forces have been deploying for weeks along the Syrian border.

Relations between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have been strained over US backing for the Kurdish YPG, which Turkey views as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) waging a decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil. It also provoked concerns about the safety of Kurdish forces who fought ISIS alongside the U.S.in Syria but are considered terrorists by Turkey and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A readout of the meeting from the Joint Staff said that Dunford, Guler and Akar "discussed the security situation in Syria, the completion of the Manbij roadmap [on security cooperation], and the deliberate, coordinated effort to withdraw US ground forces from Syria".

Mr Trump abruptly announced the U.S. withdrawal from Syria on December 19, blindsiding United States allies and triggering a confrontation within the USA administration that led to the resignation of his defence secretary.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday he was optimistic that a "good outcome" could be reached between Turkey and Syrian Kurdish groups, after speaking to the Turkish foreign minister. A former USA official told Al-Monitor that former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis "had a unique level of credibility and juice" to defy Bolton, and that few people in the Defense Department have anything good to say about Bolton.

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Last week, President Erdogan angrily rejected calls by US National Security Adviser John Bolton for the Kurdish fighters to be protected.

"We are confident we can achieve an outcome that achieves both of those", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told journalists in Abu Dhabi. Both had declared that the United States would not leave unless ISIS was entirely defeated and Turkey agreed not to attack Syrian Kurds.

"We also know that those fighting alongside us for all this time deserve to be protected as well", he said.

Mr Pompeo and his wife Susan were greeted at Abu Dhabi International Airport by UAE Minister of State Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh and US Charge d'Affaires Steve Bondy. "They help. They show what reality is, they provide [people to] reunite with families", she said.

He suggested that talks between Damascus and the Syrian Kurds could be part of a broader political solution in Syria.

The woman was reportedly sent to Syria where she took medical training from French and US doctors for six months and was later transferred to the hospitals in the region for practice, she said in the testimony. 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.

Residents near border-crossing points typically used by US forces moving in and out of Syria from Iraq told Reuters they had seen no obvious or large-scale movements following Friday's announcement.

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