Troops pull out from Syria 'not that quick'

08 January, 2019, 00:13 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • John Bolton is set to meet Israel's prime minister and Turkey's president during his trip

President Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, said Sunday the US military withdrawal from northeastern Syria is conditioned on defeating the remnants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and on Turkey assuring the safety of Kurdish fighters allied with the United States.

"There are objectives that we want to accomplish that condition the withdrawal", said Bolton, who travels to Turkey after Israel, according to NBC. "The timetable flows from the policy decisions that we need to implement", he explained.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US National Security Advisor John Bolton shake hands during a joint statement to the media follow their meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday. The White House has sent Bolton on a mission to allay Israel's concerns about President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw USA troops from Syria.

Bolton's remarks were at odds with Trump's announcement on late December that he was pulling United States troops out of Syria.

Angered by Trump's move, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas boycotted his administration, saying Washington is no longer qualified to serve as the sole mediator in the decades-long conflict with Israel, and that an global mechanism should be devised to replace the United States in the so-called peace process.

The New York Times said in a report that the move to reverse course on Trump's promised swift withdrawal from Syria has picked up in recent days, even as Bolton worked to avoid openly confronting the president the way former defence secretary Jim Mattis did.

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Just this week the president was contradicted by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who said IS was not defeated by "a long way". "It left our coalition partners confused and our fighting partners bewildered".

America needs to know Turkey will not target the U.S.'s Kurdish allies once our troops are removed, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Asked whether a US withdrawal would not take place in Syria until Turkey guaranteed the Kurdish fighters would be safe, Bolton said: "Basically, that's right". Most of the United States soldiers are there to train local forces fighting the hardcore-Islamist IS. Bolton is also slated to visit Turkey. But Trump was concerned by a possible rebuke from Russian Federation, the leading worldwide authority and staunch supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which mandates Israel is Syrian territory.

Addressing reporters at the White House, the president said: "We are pulling back in Syria". Most of the USA military bases in Syria are located in the north, in the areas controlled by Kurdish militia who actively cooperated with the United States in the fight against the Islamists. The U.S. has an estimated 2,000 troops in Syria, mostly in the northeast. "Moreover, unlike the issue of Jerusalem, the Golan wouldn't be part of any future Israel-Palestinian peace agreement, making USA recognition of Israeli sovereignty much more straightforward than any issue involving Jerusalem or other territories like the West Bank".

Though Trump ordered a rapid withdrawal of troops from Syria on December 19, no timetable was provided.

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