Turkish, US foreign ministers discuss Syria on phone

Turkish, US foreign ministers discuss Syria on phone

Turkish, US foreign ministers discuss Syria on phone

On Friday, the US-led coalition said it had started the pullout, but officials later said only equipment, not troops, were going.

"Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds", Trump tweeted on Sunday, while pushing for the creation of a 20-mile (30-km) "safe zone".

He said: "Terrorists can't be your partners and allies".

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The announcement of a pullout is fueling concern about how quickly the USA will abandon its Kurdish allies, amid contradictory statements recently by Trump administration officials on an exit timetable. "They understand that there are squabbles in Washington, but their mission remains, their duties continue and they're executing them".

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The U.S. decision has injected new uncertainty into the eight-year-old Syrian war and spurred a flurry of contacts over how the security vacuum will be filled in the swathe of northern and eastern Syria where the U.S. forces are now stationed.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed Sunday that Israel had struck hundreds of Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria over the weekend, including a weapons facility, as the Israeli Defense Forces announced the discovery of a sixth and final tunnel dug by the Lebanese militant group for cross-border attacks.

Several weeks later, national security adviser John Bolton said the withdrawal will have a longer timeline, and will not be undertaken until Kurdish fighters are protected and ISIS is defeated in the war-torn country.

He said the U.S. envoy for Syria, Jim Jeffrey, had travelled to northeast Syria this week and would soon go to Ankara for talks, including on moving forward a UN-led political process to end the eight-year long conflict in Syria.

Erdogan said Bolton was making a "serious mistake".

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Last month, Trump announced that he wanted United States troops out of Syria - a decision that resulted in the resignations of Defense Secretary James Mattis and Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIS.

Turkey has carried out military exercises at the border with Syria before an expected offensive on the northern city of Manbij, now held by the United States-backed Kurdish fighters.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is now in the Saudi capital Riyadh as he tours the Middle East to reassure US allies in the region.

"If they are terrorists, we will do what is necessary no matter where they came from", Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week.

Ankara sees the YPG as a terrorist group linked to the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) which has fought a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

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