Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Pompeo confident of good outcome for Turkey and Kurds

Pompeo confident of good outcome for Turkey and Kurds

The Pentagon first gave word of the start of the withdrawal late Thursday.

Trump made the decision to withdraw some 2,000 American troops from Syria last month, amid consultations with the Turkish military over their planned operations in Syria.

"For purposes of operational security, we will not discuss specific troop movements or timelines", he added.

The news that a withdrawal had begun was confirmed on Thursday by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in the United Kingdom, which monitors activity in the war-town country through a network of activists.

Most immediately impacted may be America's Syrian Kurdish allies, who proved an effective fighting force against Islamic State militants. 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.

"We will confirm that there has been no redeployment of military personnel from Syria to date", said Navy Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman.

The reports could not be independently confirmed.

President Donald Trump's announcement last month that he had chose to withdraw 2,000 US troops stunned allies that have joined Washington in the battle against Islamic State in Syria.

In tweets, Trump claimed that "Russia, Iran and Syria have been the biggest beneficiaries of the long term us policy of destroying ISIS in Syria". A senior U.S. official said the Americans wanted the Saudis to give a more credible explanation of what happened and do more to punish the killers, and Mr Pompeo would press them on both points. "That framework is conditions-based and will not subject troop withdrawal to an arbitrary timeline".

Turkey has carried out military exercises at the border with Syria before an expected offensive on the northern city of Manbij, now held by the United States-backed Kurdish fighters.

Ankara sees the YPG as a terrorist group linked to the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) which has fought a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

"Many of the Kurdish statements were positive regarding their concern for the unity of Syria", Assistant Syrian Foreign Minister Ayman Sousan told a small group of journalists in Damascus.

A Kurdish-led group, the Syrian Democratic Forces, is now flushing the jihadists from the very last pockets of land they control in the Euphrates River Valley.

"When the time and place comes, the terrorists here will be buried in the ditches they have dug, as was done in previous operations", Akar told the Turkish troops. "Our preparations are continuing intensively".

But the US pullout risks leaving the Kurds at the mercy of Turkey, which views the fighters as terrorists.

In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan rebuffed the comments, calling them a "serious mistake". "We're hoping those discussions, which will continue next week, will produce results that are acceptable on both sides".

Pompeo and US national security adviser John Bolton have made similar assurances to the Kurds, which have been denounced by Erdogan and other Turkish officials.

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