United States to coordinate troop withdrawal from Syria with Turkey
- Author: Rogelio Becker Dec 26, 2018,
Dec 26, 2018, 7:37
Hammoud, spokesman for the Turkey-backed Syrian opposition forces, said their fighters and weapons were deploying on the front line with Manbij, a Kurdish-administered town in northern Syria where USA troops are based. "This will have more to do with the coordination of the withdrawal process in the field".
Ankara considers the YPG a Syrian extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party.
Trump's abrupt decision to pull troops out of Syria has upended American policy in the region.
Cavusoglu said the United States withdrawal "should not serve the YPG's separatist agenda".
"We are cooperating with Turkey and Iran", Lavrov told a Russian news agency, according to a transcript posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website.
Trump's shock order came after Erdogan convinced him that Turkey could eliminate the last remaining pockets of IS after the jihadists suffered a series of military defeats.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Tuesday that preparations for an offensive in the eastern bank of the Euphrates River against Kurdish YPG militants are proceeding as planned.
A statement from the Turkish presidency said the two leaders agreed to co-ordinate militarily and diplomatically to ensure the US pullout from Syria does not lead to an "authority vacuum".
Reports this week that US President Donald Trump effectively "surrendered" Syria to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan only served to increase Israel's concerns over the situation on its northern border.
U.S. forces are still in Manbij and the Turkish-backed fighters will not advance until they withdraw, Hamoud told Reuters.
Ankara believes its forces supporting Syrian opposition fighters will now have a freer rein to target Kurdish fighters from the US-backed People's Protection Units (YPG). SDF officials have said they may have no choice but to release more than 1,000 prisoners and their families unless they are somehow able to work out a deal with the Syrian government.
This also comes a day after the US approved the sale of $3.5bn in missiles to Turkey amid negotiations for Ankara to buy anti-air defense missiles from Russian Federation.
Kurdish forces in Manbij "have taken measures to fend off any attack", said the spokesman for the Kurdish-led Manbij Military Council, Sharfan Darwish. US and Turkish forces had been conducting joint patrols around Manbij, and the USA set up a series of observation posts in the areas last month to help ease tensions.
On Monday, Turkish-backed Syrian rebels reinforced the area around Manbij.
The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara, the U.S. and the European Union. Their talk seems to have been a major factor in Trump's decision.
Washington for years supported the YPG-led SDF in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group in Syria.