Pompeo ‘optimistic’ Syria Kurds, Turkey can be protected

Erika Holt
January 13, 2019

Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. military's term for its intervention in Syria and Iraq, now means "implementing the orderly withdrawal of forces from northeast Syria within a framework coordinated across the United States government", Pentagon spokesperson Sean Robertson said on Friday evening.

Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, this week tried to make the case for guarantees that Turkey would not harm the YPG after the withdrawal.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that equipment was being moved out of Syria, a sign that despite mixed messages from Washington preparations for a withdrawal of troops was proceeding apace.

The withdrawal of troops from Syria is only a "tactical change" that will not alter US capacity to perform necessary military actions, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo said on Saturday.

Turkey and the United States, although North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, are deeply divided over the implementation of President Donald Trump's plan to bring home about 2,000 troops stationed in Syria.

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

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Pompeo said on Friday that Washington recognised "the Turkish people's right and (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan's right to defend their country from terrorists".

Speaking in Abu Dhabi later in the day, Pompeo said there were still many details to be worked out with Turkey but he was optimistic that a "good outcome" can be achieved that protects Turkey from legitimate terror threats, after speaking to the Turkish foreign minister.

The United States military on Friday began moving non-essential gear out of Syria, but will not withdraw troops immediately, AFP reported, citing American defense officials.

A Kurdish politician told Reuters last week the Kurds had presented Moscow with a roadmap for a deal with Damascus.

Ankara has repeatedly expressed frustration over a deal with the United States for the withdrawal of the YPG from the city of Manbij, just west of the Euphrates river.

In a rare acknowledgment that French troops were also in Syria, he said they would leave when there is a political solution in the country.

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