Pompeo 'optimistic' Syria Kurds, Turkey can be protected

‘We Don’t Take Orders From Bolton’: Pentagon Plans Syria Withdrawal

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday there is "no contradiction whatsoever" in the administration's Syria strategy, the Journal reported, declaring the withdrawal will take place.

Col. Sean Ryan, spokesperson for the coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, said the USA started "the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria". The confusion was precipitated by President Trump's shock announcement over the issue last month.

Speaking in Abu Dhabi, Mr Pompeo said the United States recognised "the Turkish people's right and Mr Erdogan's right to defend their country from terrorists".

Turkey on Saturday welcomed the latest statement made by Washington's top diplomat over Ankara's right to defend itself from "terrorists" after the USA withdraws from Syria.

"It is important that we do everything we can to make sure that those folks that fought with us are protected and Erdogan has made commitments, he understands that", Pompeo said during a Wednesday visit to the Kurdistan Region capital Erbil. "However, we will confirm that there has been no redeployment of military personnel from Syria to date".

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In a televised speech in December, he said Turkey's army would be ready "neutralize terrorist organizations" in upcoming months, according to the Financial Times.

Turkey had rejected the USA claim that the Syrian Kurds were represented by the YPG, which Ankara sees as a terrorist organization.

Cavusoglu's remarks followed a visit to Ankara by Trump's national security advisor John Bolton and other U.S. officials who met with at best an unwelcoming treatment by the Turks, including Erdogan who refused to receive them. 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.

USA troops have been involved in the Syrian conflict since 2014.

A USA army vehicle supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces in Hajin, eastern Syria, on December 15, 2018. "We will be like second-class citizens at best, if we survive as Syriac Christians and Kurds".

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, holds a joint press conference with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, at the Sheraton Grand in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. He said many details around the troop withdrawal still need to be ironed out, but that he was optimistic a "good outcome" could be reached between Turkey and Kurdish groups in Syria.

America's operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the country were to continue during the withdrawal process.

Nor will it stop the United States from trying to get "every Iranian boot out of Syria", Pompeo said.

"Russia, Iran and Syria have been the biggest beneficiaries of the long term USA policy of destroying ISIS in Syria - natural enemies".

The announcement fueled concern about how quickly the US will abandon its Kurdish allies, amid contradictory statements recently by administration officials on an exit timetable.

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About 2,000 USA troops are in Syria. It also led to major criticism that the US was abandoning its local Kurdish allies amid Turkish threats of an imminent attack.

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