USA withdrawal from Syria 'must not endanger allies'

John Bolton is set to meet Israel's prime minister and Turkey's president during his trip

Trump's announcement on December 19 that the USA would immediately withdraw its troops from Syria led to concerns among allies, and he has since spoken of "slowly" sending troops home "over a period of time".

Bolton's comments were the first public confirmation that the drawdown has been slowed.

The attack comes after Donald Trump tweeted on 19 December that "we have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency".

Israeli forces have shot and injured a Palestinian girl, whom they alleged to have attempted a stabbing attack against Israeli police officers at a checkpoint in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

"I never said we'd be doing it that quickly", the president said from the White House.

According to Erim, if Turkey doesn't see Bolton's requests as feasible, then it will go back to square one, meaning Turkey will conduct a military operation despite United States military presence in Syria.

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The decision to withdraw, which also led to the resignation of US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and other senior staff, has raised fears it will clear the way for a Turkish assault on the Kurdish fighters. Turkey considers the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, a terrorist group linked to an insurgency within its own borders. He said in meetings with Turkish counterparts, he will seek "to find out what their objectives and capabilities are and that remains uncertain".

Responding to Bolton's remarks, Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin maintained Turkey's opposition to the YPG, which he described as oppressing Syrian Kurds.

"Iran hates ISIS more than we do, if that's possible, " he said, using an acronym for the militants.

Since 2015, Turkey has already launched two military operations in northern Syria against the YPG, while before the U.S. pullout announcement, Turkey was planning a new attack on YPG-held areas in the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. "Acknowledging Israeli sovereignty over the strategically-critical heights would obviously be in Israel's interest, but also in the interest of the United States", explained Jonathan Ruhe, Associate Director, JINSA's Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy.

He added that Turkey should also avoid killing Kurds in Syria.

"That a terror organization can not be allied with the U.S.is self-evident", Ibrahim Kalin said Sunday in comments carried by the official Anadolu news agency. Thus, the Turks can not reasonably be expected to forebear from attacking the Kurdish forces if the U.S.is out of the picture.

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Bolton, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford and James Jeffrey, the USA special representative for Syria engagement, are scheduled to meet Turkish officials in Ankara on Tuesday.

"We now have the best US-Israeli relationship in our history", Bolton said during the joint press conference with Netanyahu. He defended the legal basis for the deployment, saying it's justified by the president's constitutional authority. "Turkey would not want to be a single actor advancing deep into Syrian territory to defeat Islamic State, but would want USA and coalition support".

On January 4, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the U.S. troops withdrawal from Syria has already started. Israel captured the Old City from Jordan in the 1967 war. "Moreover, unlike the issue of Jerusalem, the Golan wouldn't be part of any future Israel-Palestinian peace agreement, making US recognition of Israeli sovereignty much more straightforward than any issue involving Jerusalem or other territories like the West Bank".

During a Christmas visit to troops in Iraq, Trump said he would deny any request from the military to extend the mission in Syria.

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

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