Trump Tweets Withdrawal From Syria Has Begun

Trump Tweets Withdrawal From Syria Has Begun

Ankara views the Kurdish forces as terrorists aligned with insurgents inside Turkey. But Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to crush the Kurdish groups that have been effective in defeating IS in Syria.

A senior figure in Saudi Arabia's royal family, Prince Turki al-Faisal, told the BBC it would have a "negative impact" that would benefit Iran, Russia and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

His top diplomat Mike Pompeo is on a whirlwind regional tour aimed at reassuring Washington's Kurdish allies in the fight against Isis.

What did Mr Trump say? "Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms", the President tweeted on Sunday.

Turkey says the weapons are ultimately transferred to the PKK - designated as a terror group by the U.S., Turkey and the European Union - and used against Turkey.

Trump did not detail who would create, enforce or pay for the safe zone, or where it would be located.

Speaking in the United Arab Emirates, Mr Pompeo said he thought it would be possible to reach an agreement which would allow the Turks to defend themselves from terror threats while protecting Kurds - who have been fighting alongside USA troops - against the so-called Islamic State group.

US-led operations against Isis in Syria have been spearheaded on the ground by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).


Just because a "couple thousand uniform personnel" will be leaving Syria, Pompeo said, doesn't mean that USA interests have changed.

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

"We also know that those who aren't terrorists, those who were fighting alongside of us for all this time deserve to be protected as well", Pompeo said.

In Riyadh, the secretary of state is expected to discuss Iran and the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, US media report, as well as seeking an update on the investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Mr Pompeo said the withdrawal of USA troops from Syria was a "tactical change" but the mission to destroy Islamic State and counter Iran's influence remained the same.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed Sunday that Israel had struck hundreds of Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria over the weekend, including a weapons facility, as the Israeli Defense Forces announced the discovery of a sixth and final tunnel dug by the Lebanese militant group for cross-border attacks.

Over the intervening years the number of United States troops in Syria has increased, and a network of bases and airfields has been established in an arc across the north-eastern part of the country.

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