Turkey to launch attack against Kurds in Syria

Turkey to launch attack against Kurds in Syria

Pompeo met leaders in Iraq's capital and its semi-autonomous Kurdistan region on Wednesday, aiming to reassure them about Washington's plans following President Donald Trump's surprise announcement last month of an abrupt withdrawal from Syria.

Turkey has angrily rejected USA requests to refrain from attacking Syrian Kurds - key US allies in the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS - when the American troops leave.

Pompeo, who was speaking on Cairo on Thursday, did not pull any punches when addressing America's approach to dealing with Iran.

On Dec. 21, Turkey agreed to temporarily hold off its assault on the Kurds until USA troops had left the country.

USA -backed forces in Syria said they have captured eight foreign Islamic State fighters in the town of Hajin, including one American teen, days after announcing they had detained five others.

The "decision to withdraw our troops has been made".

He also met earlier with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, after arriving in Cairo late Wednesday on his longest trip since taking office a year ago which has already taken him to Jordan, Baghdad and Arbil.

Mike Pompeo poured scorn on efforts by Mr Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, to moderate American policy in the Middle East and negotiate with Iran, calling him "misguided" and a victim of "wishful thinking".

Pompeo, while not mentioning Obama by name, said that "it was here, in this city, another American stood before you" and "told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from ideology".

Iranian officials have been offering a flurry of provocative comments as Pompeo makes his way through the Middle East.

In Qatar, Pompeo is likely to find a somewhat skeptical reception from a regime that has been under relentless attack from Saudi Arabia and its other Gulf allies for its willingness to defend Iran.

Pompeo's visit comes against a backdrop of escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran, as Washington seeks to counter Iran's sway in the Middle East.

Earlier on Thursday, Pompeo held a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry, and stressed the U.S. pullout from Syria would go ahead as planned.

Brian Dooley, the group's senior adviser, said Pompeo failed to mention that Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen "repeatedly violated global law" and brushed aside the Egyptian government's "targeting of human rights activists, or of how torture in jails is driving prisoners into the arms of ISIS".

Pompeo also said the Obama administration had failed the region during the Arab Spring revolutions.

Many politicians from the ruling coalition of mainly Shi'ite parties called Trump's visit a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and demanded the United States withdraw troops.

The tour comes amid rising concerns that USA policy is getting bogged down.

Bolton has been traveling in the Middle East - making stops in Israel and Turkey - to deal with the fallout from Trump's pronouncement on Syria.

And numerous Trump administration's decisions have stoked confusion and angered many regional allies.

When Trump first announced the pullout of 2,000 ground troops on December 19, Ankara was a lonely voice among North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies welcoming the decision. Erdogan is most unlikely to attack the Kurds as long as we're present, and the cost of maintaining 2,000 troops in Syria isn't high.

But Ankara insists those Syrian Kurdish fighters are linked to the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a group that is banned in Turkey and has been considered a terrorist group by the United States since 1997.

"We don't think the Turks ought to undertake military action that's not fully coordinated with and agreed to by the United States at a minimum so they don't endanger our troops, but also so that they meet the president's requirement that the Syrian opposition forces that have fought with us are not endangered", Bolton told reporters in Jerusalem on Sunday, Reuters reported.

On Thursday, Turkey renewed its threat to launch an offensive against Kurds.

"Even when there was no such decision [by Trump], our President said we are going to enter the region east of the Euphrates", Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told privately-owned NTV.

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