Turkey to attack Syrian Kurds even if USA doesn't withdraw: FM

Turkey to attack Syrian Kurds even if US doesn't withdraw FM

Turkey to attack Syrian Kurds even if US doesn't withdraw FM

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Masoud Barzani leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the province's capital Arbil during a Middle East tour, on January 9, 2019.

Mr Pompeo arrived in Abu Dhabi late on Friday in the latest stop of his regional tour to reassure Washington's Middle East allies of its commitment to the region.

Residents near border-crossing points typically used by US forces moving in and out of Syria from Iraq told Reuters they had seen no obvious or large-scale movements following Friday's announcement.

The top US diplomat said he was "optimistic" that Kurds who fought alongside USA forces against the Islamic State group in Syria are not threatened by pledges from Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to launch military operations against what he terms Kurdish "terrorists".

But, he added, "we also know that those who are fighting alongside us for all this time deserve to be protected as well".

Mr Trump initially signalled a rapid withdrawal from Syria and U.S. officials said they expected troops to be out with 30 days.

"We will very soon mobilize to eliminate the terrorist organization in Syria", Erdogan said.

Global players in the conflict have been in talks about the future of former USA territory in Syria. An upcoming Polish film festival has also been canceled.

The U.S. military has a limited network of bases inside Syria. "Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troop movements".

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There are some 2,000 US troops stationed across northeastern Syria.

Pompeii's speech was part of a nine-nation tour of the region aimed at assuring the leaders of the Arab states that the Trump administration is still taking an active role in the region amid confusion over the recent decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.

Kurds and Christians in the northeast region "have tried to put together this pluralistic model which is based on secularism", he told NPR.

"We stand to lose our way of life, we also stand to lose our property and our livelihood", said Ishak. "We will be like second-class citizens at best, if we survive as Syriac Christians and Kurds".

"We had this conversation, many details still to be worked out but I am optimistic we can achieve a good outcome", Pompeo said of his call with Cavusoglu from Abu Dhabi, where he was on the fourth leg of a nine-nation Mideast trip.

Just because a "couple thousand uniform personnel" will be leaving Syria, Pompeo said, doesn't mean that US interests have changed. Iran has said it is planning some sort of commensurate action against Poland. He described a "big and growing" coalition to exert pressure on Iran.

He said the USA envoy for Syria, Jim Jeffrey, had traveled to northeast Syria this week and would soon go to Ankara for talks, including on moving forward a UN-led political process to end the eight-year long conflict in Syria.

President Trump consequently shocked allies and faced strong criticism at home last month when he ordered U.S. forces to immediately begin withdrawing from the approximately 30% of Syria controlled by the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance. It also led to major criticism that the US was abandoning its local Kurdish allies amid Turkish threats of an imminent attack.

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