Turkey says anti-terror operation into Syria imminent

11 January, 2019, 02:49 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Pompeo Visits Middle East to Increase Pressure on Iran

The topic of observation posts did not come up in meetings January 7-8, officials said.

The attack came at a time when Turkish officials are negotiating with their American counterparts over the fate of the weapons supplied to the terrorist group by the US -backed coalition in the pretext of fighting Daesh terrorists after the USA pullout from Syria.

"The president's decision to withdraw our folks from Syria in no way impacts our capacity to deliver on that", he said. "Turkish cooperation on counterterrorism efforts to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS". Again, this is not a box likely to be checked no matter how long US troops stay in Syria.

He also told Pompeo that Israel should withdraw from the Golan Heights - a strategic area on the northern border with Syria that Jerusalem views as critical to its security. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis quit over it. But he also indicated they would serve a dual goal.

But Ankara insists those Syrian Kurdish fighters are linked to the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a group that is banned in Turkey and has been considered a terrorist group by the United States since 1997.

"We can not accept Bolton's messages given from Israel", the Turkish president said, adding that Bolton made a "serious mistake," Reuters reported.

After Bolton's stop in Israel, he was suddenly uninvited to meet with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan - apparently a result of Bolton's demand that Turkey not attack pro-US Kurdish fighters in Syria.

The two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies are at loggerheads over the Syria conflict, including the withdrawal of American forces from the Arab country.

Before his arrival in Ankara, Bolton said that no US troops would leave northern Syria until Turkey agreed to not attack the Syrian Kurds.

Pompeo said on Thursday the USA would withdraw its troops from Syria while continuing to finish the battle against ISIS.

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"It's also very important that as we discuss with members of the coalition, [and] other countries that have an interest, like Israel and Turkey, that we expect that those who have fought with us in Syria. particularly the Kurds", not be put in "jeopardy" by the withdrawal, said Bolton, who plans to travel Tuesday to Ankara.

Pompeo also made a surprise visit to Iraq on Wednesday where he met with the prime minister.

Mr Erdoğan - who considers the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorists - said Turkey would "not make concessions" and preparations for an offensive were almost complete.

Bolton's spokesman Garrett Marquis described the talks as "productive" and centred on "the president's decision to withdraw at a proper pace from northeast Syria". "It must be hard to leave after having been so intertwined with the terrorist organization", Cavusoglu said.

A senior administration official said Erdogan's comments did not reflect U.S. President Donald Trump's understanding of his December 23 conversation with the Turkish leader, days after he announced his intent to withdraw American troops from northeastern Syria.

Earlier this week, Trump, who has lost his secretary of defense James Mattis and his representative to the anti-Islamic State (IS) Coalition Brett McGurk over his surprise announcement on Syria, seemed to be taking a step back on the decision to withdraw the USA troops when he said the timeline was still being decided.

CBS News senior national security correspondent David Martin reported in December, after President Trump announced his intention to pull all US forces out of Syria, that the Kurdish forces are holding an estimated 700 foreign combatants.

Yet even as there are hopeful signs of progress for Iraqi Christians, the conflict in Syria grinds on, with major global powers - Turkey, Iran and Russian Federation - jockeying for position.

"It's a speech shocking for its use of domestic politics, for kind of attacking a prior president in an worldwide setting and for going to a long-time ally and questioning some of the foundations of the relationship with the ally", said Heather Hurlburt, an analyst with the New America, a nonpartisan think tank.



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