Bolton: We’re not withdrawing from Syria until Turkey guarantees YPG safety

Posted January 08, 2019

Bolton, on a visit to Israel Sunday, said United States troops will not leave northeastern Syria until IS militants are defeated and American-allied Kurdish fighters are protected.

Donald Trump, the U.S. president, dropped the withdrawal bombshell in late December, indicating USA troops will be leaving imminently.

"There are objectives that we want to accomplish that condition the withdrawal", Bolton told reporters in Jerusalem, on a trip meant to allay Israeli leaders' concerns about Trump's announcement.

A top White House aide says USA troops won't leave northeastern Syria until Islamic State militants are defeated and US -allied Kurdish fighters are protected.

"We want to protect the Kurds, but I don't want to be in Syria forever", Trump said last week.

On Dec. 23 - after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned in protest of Trump's withdrawal decision - Trump tweeted that he had discussed what he called a "slow and coordinated (U.S.) pullout" from Syria with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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Bolton also said Sunday all 2,000 USA forces may not be withdrawn.

Bolton, who is to travel on to Turkey on Monday, said the insisting that its Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS are protected from any planned Turkish offensive. The US also wants to ensure that the remnants of the Islamic State (IS) group are defeated, he added.

"This buffer zone will address Turkey's security concerns and it also might be feasible for the Americans as well", he said.

The exchange began with Tehran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who shared a photo of US National Security Adviser John Bolton during a Sunday visit to Jerusalem's Western Wall.

"But this would mean a YPG pullout from certain areas, which is not clear, especially given both Turkish talks with Russian Federation, but also YPG talks with Assad regime", he said. "That a terror organization can not be allied with the self-evident", he said.

All this over a mere 2000 troops, a number far too small to affect the outcome of the civil war in Syria?

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After Trump announced his withdrawal plan, Turkey began to deploy military vehicles and troops close to a northwest Syrian town that it has long sought to capture, Bloomberg reports. We are going to be removing our troops.

With the protective trip-wire presence of the United States withdrawn, Turkey may now act more freely to dismantle the nascent Kurdish state in Syria. Turkey hates ISIS, maybe not as much as we do, but these are countries that hate ISIS, and they can do a little bit of the fighting in their neighborhood also because we're fighting them in their neighborhood.

He has essentially carried on with President Obama's policy in Syria, launched in 2014, when ISIS was at its peak, and defined by an aggressive bombing campaign and a small number of US forces who work with the Kurds and other USA partners. Mr Trump also said last month that IS had been "defeated".

The remark came in contrast to the president's statement from December 19., when he said the withdrawal would happen quickly and that the USA had defeated ISIS.

Some media reports suggested that the Israeli prime minister indeed openly asked the United States president to recognize its sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and not just once.

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