Turkish, US foreign ministers discuss Syria on phone

14 January, 2019, 01:26 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Turkey to attack Syrian Kurds even if US doesn't withdraw FM

The US military has begun moving non-essential gear out of Syria but is not withdrawing troops for now, defence officials said Friday as uncertainty grew over America's planned pullout from the battered nation.

A US official told ABC News that in recent days military equipment has been moved out of Syria into Iraq.

A spokesman for the coalition said it "has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria".

USA forces in northern Syria have fought alongside a Kurdish militia against Islamic State (IS) militants.

Why is the U.S. withdrawing from Syria?

Officials have previously told CNN to expect to see discussion of percentages of equipment withdrawn as a way of meeting Trump's intent - even though it's expected that no troops are coming out immediately. -Turkish consultations as part of the "deliberate and coordinated" withdrawal of American forces from Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had earlier reported that the coalition had started scaling down its presence at Rmeilan airfield in the notheastern province of Hasakeh.

The news that a withdrawal had begun was confirmed on Thursday by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in the United Kingdom, which monitors activity in the war-town country through a network of activists.

After days of conflicting statements about a timeline for President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw American forces from Syria, a USA defence official says the process has begun with the removal of some military cargo.

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Talking to reporters in Abu Dhabi, Mr Pompeo said the United States recognised "the Turkish people's right and [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan's right to defend their country from terrorists".

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

"The Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke to Pompeo about the latest developments in Syria", said a brief statement from Turkey's foreign ministry.

The White House has not yet publicly altered it's most recent criteria, those announced by Bolton a week ago: that ISIS must be defeated and the Kurdish forces' security guaranteed before the American troops all come out.

Most recently, both the Pentagon and U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton have said there is no deadline for U.S. troops in Syria to return home.

On a visit Friday to Turkish troops stationed near the Syrian border, Turkey's defense minister, Hulusi Akar, said his country was "determined" to fight Kurdish militias it considers terrorists.

"We also know that those who aren't terrorists, those who were fighting alongside of us for all this time deserve to be protected as well", Pompeo said.

PKK is a Kurdish underground operating inside Turkey, YPG is a defensive army in Syria, and the Turks are not interested in these distinctions.

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. But in the weeks since he gave the order, and the Pentagon began to implement it, Trump himself and members of his administration have delivered mixed messages about when the withdrawal may actually occur.

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