Irrational to claim Turkey targets Kurds, Presidential Spokesperson Kalın says

Asked whether a USA withdrawal would not take place until Turkey guaranteed that Kurdish fighters would be safe, Bolton said: "Basically, that's right".

President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to announce a United States pullout from Syria left many questions, including whether Kurdish fighters who had been operating in northern Syria alongside USA forces would now be targeted by their long-time enemy Turkey.

Kurdish forces based in the north of Syria fought alongside the United States against the so-called Islamic State, but fear attack from Turkey after Washington announced it would be pulling out its forces from the region.

Trump was widely criticized when he announced a USA military withdrawal from Syria that was supposed to happen within weeks.

Bolton's comments, reported by AP, are the clearest statement yet from the Administration about how officials plan to execute Trump's abrupt December announcement that he would pull troops from Syria.

But in that December 19 video, the president had said of the roughly 2,000 US troops in Syria: "They're all coming back, and they're coming back now".

He further boasted, "We are doing something that, frankly, if I would have told you two years [ago], when we first came into office, that we would have had that kind of success, nobody would have believed it".

Turkey's presidential spokesman called allegations that his country planned to attack the US -allied Kurds in Syria "irrational" and said Turkey was fighting terrorism for national security.

It is irrational to claim that Turkey targets Kurds, as Ankara's real targets are terrorists belonging to the PKK, its Syrian offshoot the People's Protection Units (YPG) and Daesh, Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın said Sunday. Turkey has labeled the Kurdish YPG - which receives support from the Pentagon - as a terrorist group.

"We don't want Isis to rise again and be a transnational terrorist threat, and we don't want our allies the Kurds to be slaughtered by Erdogan in Turkey".

As part of his announcement, Trump said the USA had "defeated Isis" there - a claim that his advisers and political allies have disputed.

"'There are objectives that we want to accomplish that condition the withdrawal", Bolton told reporters in Jerusalem. He defended the legal basis for the deployment, saying it's justified by the president's constitutional authority.

The U.S.is also seeking a "satisfactory disposition" for roughly 800 IS prisoners held by the U.S. -backed Syrian opposition, Bolton said, adding talks were ongoing with European and regional partners about the issue.

Mr Bolton said U.S. troops would remain at the critical are of al-Tanf, in southern Syria, to counter growing Iranian activity in the region.

Israeli public radio said that Sunday evening's meeting would also include Washington's concerns over Chinese commercial and technological activity in the Jewish state.

Bolton visited the Western Wall earlier in the day.

Israel annexed east Jerusalem after capturing it from Jordan in the 1967 war, a move not recognized by most of the worldwide community.

  • Rogelio Becker