Emmanuel Macron expresses 'deep regrets' on US Syria withdrawal

25 December, 2018, 00:37 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Brett McGurk left at the Pentagon in May 2017

With Trump's move to withdraw troops and trust that Turkey will handle the remnants of IS, the Turkish and American leaders appear to have improved relations substantially since a crisis in the summer over the detention of a USA pastor, subsequently released.

Reports have suggested USA forces will leave within 60 to 100 days. A senior official said a specific plan was being worked on.

Ahmed said her group is discussing with the Russians, the Syrian government and European countries ways to deal with the USA withdrawal.

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

U.S. soldiers in Manbij, Syria.

Trump in a Twitter video posting on December 19 declared that "we have won" against the Islamic State (IS) terror group operating in Syria and made the surprise announcement he was bringing home all USA forces from the war-torn country.

Days later, special envoy McGurk made a similar move, saying he could not support Trump's Syria decision that, he said, 'left our coalition partners confused and our fighting partners bewildered'.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a usual ally of Trump who has been harshly critical of the Syria decision, on Monday tried a different strategy as he appealed to the president to work off his diplomacy with Erdogan.

Late Saturday, one of Trump's many tweets on the issue stated that he was bringing home the troops "happy and healthy" after "decimating ISIS in Syria".

Between January and March 2017, rebels backed by Turkish forces seized the northwestern enclave of Afrin from a US-backed Kurdish militia viewed by Ankara as "terrorists" linked to Kurdish insurgents inside Turkey. The town was a source of tension between the US and Turkey because Ankara accused Washington of stalling on a June agreement to push Kurdish forces away from the area.

The Turkish president also wished a happy new year to the USA president and American people.

President Donald Trump justified his decision to withdraw US forces from Syria, noting Monday that Turkey and Saudi Arabia would instead bear the brunt of the remaining anti-Islamic State effort. He said the initial focus was on Manbij and areas just across the nearby Euphrates River.

After gaining wide stretches of territory in Syria and neighboring Iraq and declaring an Islamic "caliphate", they have mostly been driven from their strongholds, although they are holding out in some areas.

The spokesman for the Kurdish-led Manbij Military Council, Sharfan Darwish, said his forces "have taken measures to fend off any attack".

Since 2016, Ankara has carried out two similar military operations in northern Syria.

The Kurdish-led forces still control around 30 per cent of Syria, mostly in the east, including some of the richest oil fields.

But Turkey has welcomed the decision.

The withdrawal comes ahead of a possible Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria against the YPG/PKK terrorist group.



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