Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Pompeo ‘optimistic’ Syria Kurds, Turkey can be protected

Pompeo ‘optimistic’ Syria Kurds, Turkey can be protected

Mr Bolton was on a visit to Ankara to seek guarantees over the Kurdish fighters, but President Erdogan declined to meet him.

"This is the first such pullout of American forces since the USA president's announcement" of a full troop withdrawal from Syria last month, he said. Washington and Ankara also sparred over the fate of American Presbyterian minister Andrew Brunson, who was convicted in Turkey of aiding terrorism, and who Ankara was forced to extradite after Trump exerted unprecedented economic pressure. The confusion was precipitated by President Trump's shock announcement over the issue last month.

The withdrawal follows the drawdown ordered by President Donald Trump after he proclaimed the defeat of ISIS in a tweet December 19.

Defense officials in the Pentagon told The Wall Street Journal they haven't received any new directives, and until they do, will move forward with the original withdrawal plans. And while about 2,000 American troops are now based in the civil war-torn country, that number could increase before a final pull-out, according to the New York Times.

Senior U.S. officials and lawmakers have called on Trump to not abandon the PYD/YPG as he pulls out of Syria.

The distinctive feature of the US military campaign in Syria is its partnership with the Kurds and Arabs who were willing to act as American proxies by fighting the Islamic State group without USA troops having to take the lead combat role.

A Kurdish politician told Reuters earlier this month that the leadership of northern Syria had presented Russian Federation with a road map for a deal and would pursue one regardless of U.S. plans.

Saying that they evacuated a hospital in Jinderes upon the orders of USA soldiers and being transferred into a hospital in the city center, the woman said that "they wanted us to treat wounded terrorists there".

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In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan rebuffed the comments, calling them a "serious mistake".

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

Mr Pompeo said yesterday that the speech had not taken aim at individuals but rather the ideas of the previous administration, adding that the Obama-era policies opened the way for Islamic State and the spread of Iran's influence in the region.

Giving a subsequent speech about broader US policy in the Middle East at the American University in Cairo, Pompeo said "now is the time" to bring America's forces out of Syria.

The United States' withdrawal from Syria is getting under way but, at least for now, it does not involve some 2,000 USA troops on the ground, who are aiding in the fight against the Islamic State terror group.

"We're going to be discussing the president's decision to withdraw, but to do so from northeast Syria in a way that makes sure that ISIS is defeated and is not able to revive itself and become a threat again", Bolton said when meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

But, he added, "we also know that those fighting alongside of us for all this time deserve to be protected as well".

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