Israeli leader: Trump withdrawal from Syria won't affect us

by Garry Watts December 25, 2018, 0:43
Israeli leader: Trump withdrawal from Syria won't affect us

Trump said he coordinated with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - who has been warning that he will attack US-allied Kurdish fighters who had seized ground from ISIS.

He submitted his resignation three days ago in protest of the president's decision to withdraw USA troops from Syria, which has strained relations with worldwide allies.

It was not immediately clear whether Trump was referring to new funding from Saudi Arabia, which has already pledged money to cover costs for the next two years of stabilizing areas of Syria retaken from the Islamic State militant group.

Kurdish affairs analyst Mutlu Civiroglu said the USA withdrawal, announced abruptly by Trump last week, would open the way "for Turkey to start its operations against the Kurds, and a bloody war will begin".

Also Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron said he "deeply regrets" Trump's decision to pull US troops out of Syria and warned it could have risky consequences.

An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman on Saturday welcomed President Trump's decision to withdraw American forces from Syria, saying the United States military presence in the Middle East fuels insecurity in the region.

Mr Trump said on Twitter.

Since 2016, Ankara has successfully carried out two similar military operations in northern Syria.

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Mattis, 68, had said he would leave at the end of February to allow a smooth transition for the next chief of the world's top military power, but Trump - who was reportedly upset over media coverage of the stinging resignation letter submitted by the defense secretary - moved up the timetable.

Israel has reaffirmed its plan to keep Iran at bay in Syria, mentioning that if need be, the nation will "expand" its operations there. "To be an ally is to fight shoulder to shoulder".

Macron did not say what France's military will do next in Syria.

"An ally must be reliable, to coordinate with its other allies", Macron said.

Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the US military was planning a "major clearing operation" against ISIS, claiming there are "at least 20,000" ISIS fighters still in the region, according to a Daily Beast report.

Turkish-backed Syrian fighters are preparing to deploy in eastern Syria alongside Turkish troops once American forces withdraw, a spokesman said Monday, adding that his forces have begun massing on the front line of a town held by Kurdish-led forces.

Turkey has long criticized the US for training and arming the YPG, which it says is linked to domestic terrorists it has fought for more than three decades. In recent weeks Turkey had said the US was dragging its feet in implementing the deal and had vowed to launch a new offensive against the Kurds.

Also on ABC; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joined leading Republicans on foreign affairs in urging Trump to withhold a final decision for 90 days, saying withdrawal would be "a premature and costly mistake".

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