President Donald Trump's national security adviser said Sunday that U.S. withdrawal of its 2,000 troops in Syria will not be abrupt and also will be conditioned on Turkish assurances that it will not target Kurdish fighters allied with American forces.
John Bolton, during a visit to Israel for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said there is no timetable for the troop withdrawal, but that the U.S. presence is Syria is also not unlimited. Bolton's comments were the first public confirmation that the withdrawal process has been slowed from an initial indication that it would be carried out within 30 days.
Bolton said Trump "wants the ISIS caliphate destroyed," referring to Islamic State, which once claimed Raqqa in northern Syria as the capital of its religious territory in Syria and Iraq.
The national security adviser said "the timetable flows from the policy discussions that we need to implement."
U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton warned the Syrian government that it should not see the impending U.S. military withdrawal from the country as an invitation to use chemical weapons.
More than two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump declared victory over the Islamic State terror group in Syria and announced the withdrawal of U.S. forces, military planners are insisting the pullout be based on conditions on the ground and not an arbitrary timeline. "Any plan we implement is going to be conditions-based," a U.S.
More than two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump declared victory over the Islamic State terror group in Syria and announced the withdrawal of U.S. forces, military planners are insisting the pullout be based on conditions on the ground and not an arbitrary timeline.
"Any plan we implement is going to be conditions-based," a U.S.
Trump overruled U.S. national security officials and surprised allies with his Dec. 19 announcement he was withdrawing the American troops from Syria, where they have carried out air attacks on Islamic State and Syrian positions and advised Kurdish fighters. Trump's action, meeting a long-time pledge of his to get U.S. troops out of Syria, drew widespread protests, including from Republican lawmakers. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned in protest.
Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey are threatening to resurface following President Donald Trump's apparent walking back of his commitment to immediately withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and end support for a Syrian Kurdish militia.
Washington's backing of the YPG Kurdish militia in its war against the Islamic State group pushed U.S.-Turkish relations to a breaking point.
Bolton said the U.S. wants assurances from Turkey about the safety of Kurdish fighters allied with the United States before the U.S. military withdraws.
"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.
Bolton was meeting Sunday night with Netanyahu, who has voiced concern about the U.S. troop withdrawal and continued worries about the Iranian military buildup in Syria.
The national security adviser is headed to Turkey on Monday, to find out what its objectives are in northern Syria and assurances that it will not kill Kurdish fighters. Turkey has carried out a three-decade fight against Kurds in southeastern Turkey.