Pompeo ‘optimistic’ Syria Kurds, Turkey can be protected

1 2018 Turkish and U.S. troops conduct joint patrols around the Syrian town of Manbij as part of an agreement that aimed to ease tensions between the two NATO allies

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.

Democratic Party legislator Adam Schiff on Friday lashed out at the Donald Trump administration for its decision to pull the USA out of Syria.

US Colonel Sean Ryan, a coalition spokesman, said the coalition "has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria".

After media reports suggesting the departure of USA forces had begun, the Pentagon later said no troops had yet withdrawn and stressed that the battle against ISIS was continuing as US-backed forces try to capture the group's last remaining pockets of territory in Syria.

Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. military's term for its intervention in Syria and Iraq, now means "implementing the orderly withdrawal of forces from northeast Syria within a framework coordinated across the United States government", Pentagon spokesperson Sean Robertson said on Friday evening.

Robertson, in his statement, said the coalition had carried out "logistical measures" to support a withdrawal but did not enter into details.

The comments from Hulusi Akar, on an unannounced visit to inspect troops stationed near the Syrian border directly opposite territory held by the US -backed Kurdish YPG, appeared to be aimed at both Washington and its Kurdish allies.

United States national security adviser John Bolton suggested on Tuesday that protecting Washington's Kurdish allies would be a precondition of the USA withdrawal. That earned a stiff rebuke from President Tayyip Erdogan.

The top USA diplomat said he was "optimistic" that Kurds who fought alongside US 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".

"It doesn't materially alter our capacity to continue to perform the military actions that we need to perform", Pompeo told reporters in Abu Dhabi.

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Kurdish-led groups who control swathes of northern Syria fear an attack from Turkey in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops from their region.

Pompeo's remarks follow tensions between the USA and Turkey over the fate of Washington's allies in the fight against ISIS.

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

Turkey's defense minister on Friday pledged to wage a campaign against a USA -backed Syrian Kurdish militia, sharpening focus on a potential conflict the United States has sought to prevent.

Maria Zakharova, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said it was important for Syrian Kurds and the Syrian government to start talking to each other in light of the USA withdrawal plans.

Kurdish People's Protection Units, as a terrorist group linked to the Kurdistan Worker's Party which has fought a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

A Kurdish politician told Reuters last week the Kurds had presented Moscow with a roadmap for a deal with Damascus.

According to the sources, the ministers discussed the latest developments in Syria.

Ankara has repeatedly expressed frustration over a deal with the United States for the withdrawal of the YPG from the city of Manbij, just west of the Euphrates river.

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