Turkish, US foreign ministers discuss Syria on phone

Nellie Chapman
January 14, 2019

Recent reports have indicated the U.S. is considering leaving some troops in place at the al-Tanf base in southern Syria, which is seen as a key bulwark against Iran. "Our preparation continues intensely", the Turkish defense minister said Friday.

19 announcement that he was moving to disentangle USA troops from Syria's complex battlefield sparked fears that the move might undo efforts to defeat the Islamic State's final remnant in Syria.

Robertson, in his statement, said the coalition had carried out "logistical measures" to support a withdrawal but did not enter into details.

Now, America's allies on the ground are turning to Washington's rivals for protection.

"Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey".

The US military, Trump promised, will still use an "existing nearby base", apparently in Iraq, to attack the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants if the terrorist organization re-emerges in Syria.

When Trump first announced that the United States would be withdrawing its troops from Syria in 30 days, there were fears such a move would open up Kurdish fighters - who are combatting ISIS in northern Syria with the help of the United States - to an assault by Turkey.

Last week, President Erdogan angrily rejected calls by US National Security Adviser John Bolton for the Kurdish fighters to be protected. The comments drew a rebuke from Erdogan, who slammed them as a "serious mistake".

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is on a tour of the region, has also sought to reassure the Kurds that they will be safe after U.S. troops withdraw from the country.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Masoud Barzani leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the province's capital Arbil during a Middle East tour, on January 9, 2019.

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President Donald Trump announced last month the decision to withdraw 2,000 United States troops who have deployed to Syria in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia, which have spearheaded the fight against the IS group. Turkey, however, considers the YPG a terrorist group linked to a rebellion in Turkey.

The pullout was reportedly sparked after a phone conversation between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Colonel Sean Ryan, spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State, said the process of removing troops for the country had started.

A Kurdish official told Reuters last week they had presented Russian Federation with a roadmap to a deal with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, in the hope of striking a political deal that will stave off Turkey and shield Kurdish autonomy in the north.

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

Maria Zakharova, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said it was important for Syrian Kurds and the Syrian government to start talking to each other in light of the U.S. withdrawal plans.

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

A female healthcare worker who was kidnapped by the PKK terrorist group in June 2013 and was taken to several places including Syria where she received medical education from foreigners revealed the disgusting conditions women face in the terror group's camps after surrendering to Turkish security forces.

The US-led coalition on Saturday fired over 20 missiles against jihadist positions, the Observatory said.

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