Turkey sends troops to Syria border as U.S. prepares for pullout talks


"We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there", wrote President Donald Trump, as he ordered the withdrawal of all USA forces from Syria, stunning the USA foreign policy establishment. But that word hasn't yet seemed to have trickled down to troops downrange, many of whom have been reading news reports of a potential hasty exit from Syria, Afghanistan, and the abrupt resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis - all in the span of a week.

Speaking on a visit to French troops in Chad, Mr Macron said: "To be allies is to fight shoulder to shoulder".

Those threats and a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week appear to have triggered Trump's decision to withdraw the USA forces based in Syria.

With regards to Iraq, the foreign minister said that Turkey's priority is to clean terrorist PKK elements in cooperation with the Iraqi government.

On 23 December the U.S. president tweeted that his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to "eradicate whatever is left of ISIS in Syria", while American troops would be returning home.

Israeli media reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rejected the plan as it would have involved the easing of sanctions, which he views as the primary vehicle through which to pressure the Iranian regime to curb its expansionism and renegotiate the 2015 nuclear agreement, from which the USA withdrew in May.

Late Sunday he tweeted that Erdogan had assured him that any IS fighters remaining will be eliminated.

Since 2016, the USA military has helped run, with Maghawir Al-Thawra rebels, the Tanf desert base, strategically located near Syria's borders with Jordan and Iraq.

Sean Robertson, said the execute order for withdrawal has been signed but provided no further details.

Islamic State launched an attack on Friday on positions held by the SDF in Syria's southeast and the US-led coalition mounted air strikes in the area, an SDF official said.

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"It is crucial that the US doesn't appear as not having kept its promises", Cavusoglu said.

ISIS is a commonly used acronym referring to Islamic State.

But his decision to leave Syria is unpopular among many in Washington, including within his own administration.

Syrian Kurdish officials are arguing rumored plans by the USA to help Turkey fight the Islamic State (IS) in the region would not work as the administration in Washington last week announced the withdrawal of troops.

The presidential spokesperson also said a U.S. military delegation was expected to arrive in Turkey this week to discuss coordination for United States pullout from Syria, Xinhua news agency reported.

Kalin said there will be no "step back, weakness, halting or a slowing down" of the fight against the Islamic State.

The convoys are crossing into an area controlled by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a Turkish ally, and are heading to the frontlines of Manbij, TRT World said. Turkey has criticized the US for helping the Kurds shore up control of this region and has indicated it could invade as soon as USA forces are out.

Turkey, with support from the FSA, carried out two cross-border operations in northern Syria, dubbed "Euphrates Shield" and "Olive Branch", against the YPG and Islamic State.

Kurdish forces in Manbij "have taken measures to fend off any attack", said the spokesman for the Kurdish-led Manbij Military Council, Sharfan Darwish. Hundreds of Kurdish fighters died in the fight against IS.

Whether or not the US President changes his mind again, the Western-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) clearly can not count on American support for the rest of Trump's presidency.