Published: Tue, December 25, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Order signed for United States military's controversial Syria exit

Order signed for United States military's controversial Syria exit

Trump tweeted on Sunday that he had a "long and productive" call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which they discussed "the slow & highly coordinated" pullout of US troops from the area.

Trump stunned his allies and the United States establishment on Wednesday when he ordered the withdrawal of 2,000 American ground forces in Syria.

Trump justified the move with an early-morning tweet claiming that the USA defeated the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS).

Earlier on Sunday, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, in conversation with IDF Radio, acknowledged that a USA pullout "does not help Israel" and in fact "strengthens Erdogan, an anti-Semitic war criminal who carries out massacres of the Kurdish people, and does so with a wink from the global community".

The decision followed an earlier Trump phone call with Erdogan, who has been pressing for a USA withdrawal.

The two leaders reportedly agree to coordinate to prevent an authority vacuum from developing as the withdrawal process begins.

"The decision to remove the 2,000 United States troops from Syria will not change our consistent policy".

In the past two years, Turkey has conducted two offensives into northern Syria, dubbed "Euphrates Shield" and "Olive Branch".

The move has drawn criticism from both the Republican and Democratic parties.

"In the meantime", he added, "within the framework of the phone call with Mr. Trump, we are and will work on our operation plans aimed at neutralizing the DAESH elements that are said to continue their existence in Syria".

Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, who also publicly criticized another Trump order to pull out up to half of the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, had been expected to remain until February.

"To be an ally is to fight shoulder to shoulder", he said, "paying tribute" to outgoing Secretary Mattis, who he called a "reliable partner". "To be an ally is to fight shoulder to shoulder".

Turkey has openly expressed an interest in attacking Kurdish forces in Syria, and Erdogan has previously threatened USA troops who were on the ground supporting the local fighters.

Many opponents say a quick departure by USA forces would represent a betrayal to Kurdish allies who could be at the mercy of nearby Turkish forces. In recent weeks Turkey had said the USA was dragging its feet in implementing the deal and had vowed to launch a new offensive against the Kurds.

Erdogan also stressed Turkey was prepared to provide all kinds of support to the U.S., its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, within North Atlantic Treaty Organisation framework, Turkish presidency said in a statement.

The Kurdish militia, who played a leading role in fighting the Islamic State (IS) fear it could help the extremist group to regain a foothold, according to Duetche Welle, which cited the group's media director Mustafa Bali.

Turkey was in Syria "to return the freedom of our Arab brothers and sisters, to return the freedom of our Kurdish brothers and sisters", Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara.

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