Trump doubles down on Syria pullout: 'Stop the endless wars!'


The fate of US troops in Syria was further muddled Tuesday when Turkish President Recep Erdogan said Bolton made a "grave mistake" when he demanded Turkey pledge protection of the American supported Kurdish fighters.

Erdogan refused to meet with Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton, who was visiting Ankara.

"This is the first such pullout of American forces since the U.S. president's announcement" of a full troop withdrawal from Syria last month, he said.

"We have no problems with our Kurdish brothers, Arab brothers in Syria, Turkmens and other ethnic and religious groups", the DM explained, "Our only targets are the terrorists ISIS and PKK/YPG".

President Donald Trump last month claimed the Islamic State group had been defeated and said U.S. troops would return home "now".

Mr. Trump's abrupt decision in December to pull them, declaring in a tweet the defeat of ISIS, sent shockwaves across the region and led to the resignation of U.S. Defense Minister James Mattis and the top U.S. envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition.

Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman for the coalition fighting the Islamic State group, said the USA started "the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria". And while about 2,000 American troops are now based in the civil war-torn country, that number could increase before a final pull-out, according to the New York Times.

The U.S. -led military coalition has begun withdrawing troops from Syria, a U.S. defense official confirmed Friday.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this month said that ensuring the Turkish military does not massacre the Kurds would be a key priority for the United States following the Pentagon's withdrawal of its troops from Syria. "The bulk of recent attacks show how we are more committed than ever to act against Iran in Syria, as we promised".

When Pompeo said earlier this month that the USA wants to ensure "the Turks don't slaughter the Kurds", Turkey denounced Pompeo, saying he exhibited "a worrying lack of information".

"We are confident we can achieve an outcome that achieves both of those", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told journalists in Abu Dhabi.

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.

On a visit to Turkish troops stationed near the Syrian border Friday, Turkey's defence minister, Hulusi Akar, reiterated that Ankara is "determined" to fight Kurdish militias it considers terrorists and said military preparations were ongoing.

More than 2,000 USA troops are serving in Syria. -Turkish consultations as part of the "deliberate and coordinated" withdrawal of American forces from Syria.

Mr Pompeo said yesterday that the speech had not taken aim at individuals but rather the ideas of the previous administration, adding that the Obama-era policies opened the way for Islamic State and the spread of Iran's influence in the region.

About 2,000 US troops are in Syria.

Previously Washington said that it would not disclose a timeline for the withdrawal of its troops, and pledging that the US-led worldwide coalition's fight against terrorism would continue.

Media captionIs this the Islamic State group's last stand in Syria?