Published: Fri, December 28, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

U.S. to coordinate troop withdrawal from Syria with Turkey

U.S. to coordinate troop withdrawal from Syria with Turkey

United States media said the decision came after a telephone call between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following the announcement of an anticipated Turkish military operation against Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), east of the Euphrates River, which Ankara considers a terrorist group.

Ankara regards the YPG as terrorists and has been infuriated by U.S. support for the group in the fight against Islamic State.

Following Wednesday's unexpected and dramatic full and "immediate" withdrawal of all USA forces from Syria, Turkey has announced it will not play ball on Iran sanctions. The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara, the U.S. and the European Union.

"There will be intensive traffic" between officials, he added, a day after Trump and Erdogan held a telephone conversation agreeing to coordinate the Syria pull-out.

Trump's shock order came after Erdogan convinced him that Turkey could eliminate the last remaining pockets of ISIS after the jihadists suffered a series of military defeats.

"While nothing definite is being planned, the president is open to a potential meeting in the future", White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Monday night.

Erdogan and Trump agreed in a phone call on Sunday to establish military and diplomatic coordination to prevent a power vacuum from developing as the US withdraws.

"We are transitioning primary responsibility for the defeat of the few remaining ISIS remnants in Syria to our allies and partners on the ground inside Syria", a USA administration official told VOA Friday, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

The Turkish leader has also slammed American officials for rejecting his requests to hand over Fethullah Gulen, a powerful opposition figure living in the United States, whom Ankara accuses of having masterminded the July 2016 coup attempt. Turkey is an active member of the Global Coalition Against Daesh and is co-chairing Counter-Daesh Coalition Working Group on Foreign Terrorist Fighters. "We consider this a step in the right direction with the ability to begin the peace process, so let's just see how it will be realized in practice because earlier we heard that the Americans didn't fulfil their promises in that area", she said.

"Turkey's mercenary troops, who fought with al-Qaeda and ISIS, are waiting to get the green light to move into Syria, so that they can kill all "infidels" of the region", the group said in a statement.

Mr Hammoud said one main aim of the Turkey-led operation to reclaim eastern Syria was to create the conditions and space for the return of refugees and displaced persons, who fled the Syrian government.

Military reinforcements had also been sent to the Akcakale border town and Ceylanpinar district, both in the southeastern Sanliurfa province. The remnants of the so-called Free Syrian Army, which never stopped complaining about what it saw as the West's reluctance to decapitate the Bashar al-Assad administration, are today allied with Turkey.

Sinan Ulgen, chairman of the Istanbul-based Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies, said that the distance between the last ISIS pockets and the Turkish border posed a "real problem" of logistics.

Israel's air force has struck scores of targets it describes as Iranian deployments or arms transfers to Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah movement in the Syrian conflict.

This also comes a day after the US approved the sale of $3.5bn in missiles to Turkey amid negotiations for Ankara to buy anti-air defense missiles from Russian Federation.

The notion of retired generals such as Mr Mattis, former chief of staff John Kelly and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster restraining the commander-in-chief's worst impulses has always been something of a myth. Mr Trump told the Washington Post last month that he placed greater trust in his own gut - clogged though it may be with burgers and Diet Coke - than in the brains of his advisers.

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