US withdraws troops in Syria but will continue to fight ISIS

Though the US has started to withdraw its military from Syria, the fight against ISIS will not be stopped any time soon.

This is an undertaking made by Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State while he was on a whirlwind, week-long visits of Amman, Jordan, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

“It is a tactical change in military strategy and it will not deter efforts to defeat ISIS,” said Pompeo, answering the question on the decision of the US to withdraw troops from Syria.

Last Friday Pentagon announced, “the process of Washington’s deliberate withdrawal from Syria has begun.”

Pompeo assured the international community that the fight against ISIS in ongoing. He was talking on Saturday during a speech in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in which he also encouraged Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in Syria.

“We recognise the Turkish peoples’ right and President Erdogan’s desire to defend his country from terrorists,” Pompeo said, American NPR reported.

Turkey considers Kurdish armed groups in Syria as terrorists and as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), waging a decades-long war on Turkish soil, Pompeo said they knew those who weren’t terrorists.

“But those who were fighting alongside American troops for all this time deserve to be protected as well,” he added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had vowed to “defeat” Kurdish People’s Protection Units PYD and YPG forces in Syria. In December he said the Turkish military was prepared for operations at the Turkish-Syrian border.

Pompeo made Erdogan unhappy earlier this month when he said the US aimed to ensure “the Turks didn’t slaughter Kurds.”

He told reporters on Saturday that he was optimistic a deal could be reached between Ankara and Kurdish groups in Syria, after being on the phone with Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Jim Jeffrey, special representative for Syria, a former US envoy to Turkey and Iraq is expected to return to Turkey soon, Pompeo said.

Erdoğan rebuffs Washington’s YPG requirement and refuses to meet Bolton

The Syrian government, meanwhile, tipped its hand to intensify dialogue with Syrian Kurdish groups as part of Damascus’ strategy to fill a potential void in the region after the withdrawal of the US troops.

“We hope for the intensification of the dialogue. Many Kurdish statements were positive regarding their concern for the unity of Syria,” assistant Syrian Foreign Minister Ayman Sousan said on Sunday.

He articulated his hope of a political deal with Kurdish groups and the unity of Syria, a country that has been on a civil war for eight years.

Russia, Syria’s close ally in the region also announced its support for negotiations on the eve of the US withdrawal.

The withdrawal was announced by President Trump and is still not scheduled. The US personnel, around 2 000, are still in Syria, according to a Pentagon spokesman.

The US officials said on Friday for its only equipment, not troops, that’s being withdrawn.

In the early hours of Monday, President Trump directly targeted Turkey on a Twitter message and urged Ankara to refrain attacking Kurds in Syria, after US withdrawal.

“We will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds”, wrote Trump on his Twitter account.

Turkish troops entered Syria, claims group

Turkish troops and tanks carried out military exercises on the border with Syria on Saturday, state-run Anadolu agency reported.

A UK-based monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, claimed a Turkish convoy had crossed the border and entered Syria.

Turkey-backed Syrian rebels fight with Islamist insurgent groups in Idlib, where jihadist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has tightened control.

Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds: Trump

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