Pompeo 'optimistic' Syria Kurds, Turkey can be protected

14 January, 2019, 05:22 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife Susan arrive at Abu Dhabi International Airport in Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates Friday Jan. 11 2019

Trump promised the US will hit Turkey financially if Ankara attacks the Kurds, but noted in a follow-up tweet that he does "not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey".

"Create 20 mile safe zone".

The US has begun withdrawing military equipment from Syria, but in coming weeks, the contingent of about 2,000 troops is expected to depart.

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

DAMASCUS, Jan 13 - The Syrian government hopes dialog with Syrian Kurdish groups will intensify, a minister said on Sunday, signaling support for talks the Kurds hope will lead to a political deal between two of the main players in the multi-sided war.

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.

"We also know that those fighting alongside us for all this time deserve to be protected as well", he added.

Ibrahim Kalin, Turkey's presidential spokesman, replied, also on Twitter, with a warning for Mr Trump.

Turkish, US foreign ministers discuss Syria on phone
National Security Adviser John Bolton have said there is no deadline for U.S. troops in Syria to return home. USA forces in northern Syria have fought alongside a Kurdish militia against Islamic State (IS) militants.

"Turkey expects the U.S. to honour our strategic partnership and doesn't want it to be shadowed by terrorist propaganda".

Senior US officials were shocked too, among them Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who quit in protest.

US-led operations against Isis in Syria have been spearheaded on the ground by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Washington and Ankara also sparred over the fate of American Presbyterian minister Andrew Brunson, who was convicted in Turkey of aiding terrorism, and who Ankara was forced to extradite after Trump exerted unprecedented economic pressure.

But Turkey says the backbone of that alliance - the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) is linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is sees as a terrorist group.

The bilateral relations have been further aggravated by U.S. threats to halt the transfer of military tech to its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, including the fifth generation F-35 stealth fighter jets, and even to impose sanctions over Turkey's commitment to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems, a diversification of weapons suppliers that enhances its national security.

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.

An estimated 2,000 civilians remain trapped in the area around the town of Hajin, the United Nations said.

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