Turkey Hails Pompeo Comments Over Defense Against 'Terrorists'

Leroy Wright
January 14, 2019

It also prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and drew criticism in Congress. Sen.

On Saturday, more than 600 people were evacuated from the remaining IS holdout in eastern Syria, a monitor said, as US-backed fighters prepare for a final assault on the area.

"Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements", Ryan said in a statement to the AP.

The U.K. -based Syrian Observatory for Human rights reported that about 10 armored vehicles had been witnessed leaving a military base in the town of Rmelan, in Syria's northeastern province of Hasakah on Thursday.

A USA official told ABC News that in recent days military equipment has been moved out of Syria into Iraq.

Now, America's allies on the ground are turning to Washington's rivals for protection.

A senior Kurdish politician said the Kurds are aware of the U.S. beginning the withdrawal, describing it as "America's decision". "The bulk of recent attacks show how we are more committed than ever to act against Iran in Syria, as we promised".

Pompeo and US national security adviser John Bolton have made similar assurances to the Kurds, which have been denounced by Erdogan and other Turkish officials.

In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan rebuffed the comments, calling them a "serious mistake".

The distinctive feature of the US military campaign in Syria is its partnership with the Kurds and Arabs who were willing to act as American proxies by fighting the Islamic State group without USA troops having to take the lead combat role.

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he is confident that the Trump administration and Turkey can agree a way to protect the Kurdish fighters in Syria after US troops leave the country.

Kurdish-led groups who control swathes of northern Syria fear an attack from Turkey in the wake of US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops from their region.

He told reporters in Israel that it would be done in a way that guaranteed IS "is defeated and is not able to revive itself", and that the United States would "take care of those who have fought with us against [IS] and other terrorist groups".

He added Pompeo also stressed the importance that the US places on the protection of forces, namely PYD/YPG, the Syrian offshoot of PKK terror organization. Using his typical mode of communication to reaffirm the withdrawal of American troops from the ground, the U.S. president warned Ankara against seeing this as an opportunity to stage any military campaign against Syrian Kurds.

Maria Zakharova, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said it was important for Syrian Kurds and the Syrian government to start talking to each other in light of the USA withdrawal plans.

Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades.

A Kurdish politician told Reuters last week the Kurds had presented Moscow with a roadmap for a deal with Damascus.

Trump also appeared to propose a 20 mile safe zone on the Turkey-Syria border so as to prevent clashes between the Turkish military and Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian of France, which is part of the US-led coalition, welcomed what he believed was a slower withdrawal by the United States after pressure from its allies.

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