Published: Tue, January 08, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Bolton: U.S.' Withdrawal From Syria Will Happen Under One Condition

Bolton: U.S.' Withdrawal From Syria Will Happen Under One Condition

President Donald Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, says the USA military withdrawal from northeastern Syria is conditioned on defeating the remnants of the Islamic State group, and Turkey assuring the safety of Kurdish fighters allied with the United States.

The withdrawal of US troops from Syria depends on certain conditions, US National Security Adviser John Bolton says, in a further indication that the process is being slowed down.

"We don't think the Turks ought to undertake military action that's not fully coordinated with and agreed to by the U.S., at a minimum so they don't endanger our troops", Bolton said in Jerusalem, ahead of a visit on Tuesday to Turkey.

Trump's advisers and Republican allies have warned that pulling out US troops would also leave Kurdish fighters - who had been vital USA allies - susceptible to attacks by Turkey, where leaders see the group as a threat to their nation's sovereignty.

Another prominent administration official has announced his departure since President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of all US troops in Syria. "It's important to know that we have the backing of our great friend and ally the United States of America".

But on December 19 Trump tweeted: "We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency". Erdogan has promised that his forces, along with their own allied Syrian fighters, will take up the anti-IS fight - a promise viewed with suspicion by critics who think Erdogan could attack the Kurds anew once the US departs.

One Israeli intelligence source told Fox News there is a "good chance" the USA will heed the request, as quite simply "they live there, they recognize it as Israeli", and it's just a matter of the United States also making that formal recognition. Additional details are expected to be discussed on Monday, when Bolton travels to Turkey for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"The State of Israel is dealing with all aspects connected to the establishment and management of infrastructure by foreign companies in Israel", Intelligence and Transportation Minister Israel Katz, who pioneered the project and is also a member of the security cabinet, said.

Bolton's outline of conditions for withdrawal appeared to contradict President Donald Trump's announcement of victory over ISIS and a hasty withdrawal from Syria.

Ziya Meral, senior resident fellow at the British Army's Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research, said the priorities of the U.S. and Turkey over northern Syria are hard to reconcile, not least because it is not clear what it is that the Trump administration actually want to see in the long term.

Turkey has pledged to continue the fight against ISIL in Syria after the USA withdraws, although Ankara has reportedly requested significant United States military support to carry out the mission.

Bolton will touch down in the Turkish capital, Ankara, where he will be joined by US Joint Chief of Staff General Joseph Dunford, having stated that the US pullout is conditional on defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), as well as Turkish assurances on the security of the US's Kurdish militia allies. Bolton said the discussion is meant to determine "what the dispensary of the Turkish forces is going to be, how they relate to the opposition, and so on".

The US will give a green light to some type of Turkish operation in Syria, just maybe not to the extent that Turkey wants, according to Erim, who reiterated recent debates about a 40-mile buffer zone into Syria.

Bolton said USA troops would remain at the critical area of al-Tanf, in southern Syria, to counter growing Iranian activity in the region. Mr. Trump himself, however, also toured the area in a previous visit.

United States defence secretary Jim Mattis and a top United States official in the fight against IS, Brett McGurk, resigned soon after his announcement last month. That group has been classified as a terrorist organization by both the US and Turkey. He toured archaeological excavations there, accompanied by the head of Israel's National Security Council, Meir Ben Shabat, and the USA ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

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