Turkey Stands By Deal To Buy Russian Missiles, Attack Kurds In Syria

President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House Wednesday Jan. 2 2019 in Washington

President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House Wednesday Jan. 2 2019 in Washington

Editor's note: This story and its headline have been corrected.

"There is our [military] presence in Iraq, [and] we have a scanty presence in Syria", he told France's C-News television. The topic of observation posts did not come up in meetings January 7-8, officials said.

Trump announced December 19 that all US troops would immediately withdraw from Syria.

The comments raised eyebrows in the United States and overseas not the least because Trump himself is being criticized for his ambiguous plan announced last month to pull us troops out of Syria.

"If the US pulled out of Iraq, it would hand the keys of Nineveh" to anti-Christian forces, said the source, referencing the Nineveh region of Iraq that is an ancestral Christian homeland.

On Wednesday, Joint Staff officials said reports of Gen. Dunford's comments regarding the observation posts were false.

Turkey and the United States are now at loggerheads over the future of Syrian Kurdish forces, considered by Ankara as "terrorists", after the troop pullout.

The decision reportedly followed a conversation between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who views Syrian Kurdish fighters as a terrorist force working to destabilize his country.

What was originally a 30-day timeline for withdrawal gradually grew to several months, but now Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton are stating that any withdrawal is "conditions-based", including the enduring defeat of ISIS, protection for America's Kurdish partners, and the assurance that Iran will not increase its influence in the region.

US-led coalition forces have provided air power and other support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in its operation to flush out IS from the last rump of its now-defunct "caliphate".

Bolton, before arriving in Ankara, said Washington would not leave Syria without first receiving guarantees that Turkey would not attack its allies.

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"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.

The U.S. and Turkey are allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

It is highly unusual for an American secretary of state to deliver a speech in a foreign capital attacking a former US president.

"There are different voices within the administration", Cavusoglu said in remarks to a parliamentary committee, according to Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper.

Bolton's spokesman Garrett Marquis described the talks as "productive" and centred on "the president's decision to withdraw at a proper pace from northeast Syria". "It must be hard to leave after having been so intertwined with the terrorist organization", Cavusoglu said.

Pompeo jetted off to reassure Middle Eastern allies rattled by Trump's sudden announcement in December that the Islamic State was defeated and that he would withdraw 2,000 USA troops from Syria in 30 days. Iranian officials, Trump said, "can do what they want" in Syria.

Defense Secretary James Mattis announced his resignation shortly thereafter and slammed the president in his resignation letter, which caused Trump to push him out at the end of the year instead of his original February departure.

The White House's constant unpredictability sends shockwaves worldwide with Trump's tweets from December about the U.S. military withdrawing from Syria being a salient example.

Iraqi analyst Hani Ashour, who teaches political science at Baghdad University, told Sky News Arabia that the "Iraqi parliament was due to debate US troop levels in Iraq Thursday, following protests by some political parties over fears the USA was moving troops it was withdrawing from Syria to Iraq".

The same source said that he understood Bolton to have told the Israelis that the USA withdrawal from Syria would be a very slow process that could undergo delays if needed.

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