U.S. acknowledges threat to Turkey from terrorists, Pompeo says


When President Donald Trump recently announced plans for a rapid USA troop pullout from Syria, the news ignited a firestorm on Capitol Hill and prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

The unannounced visits to Baghdad and the Kurdish regional capital Erbil came on the second day of a Middle East tour also taking in Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman.

Donald Trump's national-security advisor met with Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel yesterday to discuss plans for the region, including a withdrawal from "northeast Syria", as Bolton specified in a joint presser. His abrupt decision led to the resignations of Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and Brett McGurk, special presidential envoy for the global coalition to defeat IS.

That US military support for the YPG has shaken relations between Washington and Ankara. "That includes Turkey and others".

Washington has repeatedly said its Kurdish allies will remain safe despite the withdrawal.

Turkey considers the PYD/YPG as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by both Ankara and Washington.

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The trip also follows National Security Adviser John Bolton's visit to Turkey this week, where he was snubbed and then publicly criticized by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the shifting US conditions for a withdrawal from Syria.

But there are rising concerns that USA policy is getting bogged down.

"It's important that we do everything we can to make sure that those folks that fought with us are protected and [Mr] Erdogan has made commitments, he understands that", Mr Pompeo told reporters.

The president has come under withering pressure both at home and in allied capitals after previous statements indicating that he considered the IS group vanquished and that he wanted U.S. troops out of Syria imminently.

Mr Pompeo warned there would be no U.S. reconstruction aid for areas controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad until Iran and its proxies had left.

A state-run Russian television station reported that Russian military police were patrolling the outskirts of the town of Manbij, where U.S. soldiers remain, in a buffer zone separating Syrian forces and "militants" outside of the town.

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As Pompeo arrived in Egypt, the US State Department described the country as a "steadfast partner in the anti-terror fight, and a courageous voice in denouncing the radical Islamist ideology that fuels it".

A meeting between Bolton and Erdogan was never confirmed, a US official said, but administration officials had said one was expected.Speaking before Erdogan's remarks to parliament, Marquis said Bolton and Kalin had "a productive discussion" and had "identified further issues for dialogue."Bolton's comments about Turkey over the weekend during an interview with reporters traveling with him in Israel had drawn criticism from Turkish officials".

"We are pleased with Trump's decision for withdrawal, but it needs to be clarified as to what kind of structure will be left behind, what will happen to the heavy weapons that have been deployed, the fate of American military bases and logistics centers", Turkish presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said, according to Hurriyet and Anadolu.

What to do with hundreds of foreign so-called Islamic State (IS) fighters captured in Syria has become a critical and growing problem for the Trump administration as it prepares to pull troops out of the country.

However, Palestinian diplomatic sources have repeatedly said they do not like what Kushner has been indicating, leading the Palestinian Authority (PA) to suspend contacts with Trump's envoy. Islamic State militants are still waging insurgent attacks in the north of the country and trying to make a comeback, although they were driven from all towns and cities previous year.

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