Trump, Bolton indicate more gradual USA withdrawal in Syria

Two British special forces soldiers seriously injured in missile attack by so-called Islamic State in Syria

Two British special forces soldiers seriously injured in missile attack by so-called Islamic State in Syria

Currently, about 2,000 USA forces are in the Syria, which is in the grips of a complex civil war. In his letter of resignation, Mattis said that he left due to disagreements with Donald Trump, and also because of the withdrawal of the USA forces from Syria.

American ground troops first became involved in Syria in autumn 2015 when then-President Barack Obama sent in a small number of special forces to train and advise local Kurdish fighters who were fighting IS. Turkey considers the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, a terrorist group linked to an insurgency within its own borders.

It is "irrational" to say Turkey targets Kurds as the country is fighting Daesh and the PKK/PYD/YPG, Turkish Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said in response to Bolton's remarks.

"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. Erdogan sees all Kurdish forces as terrorists and can not be expected to back off his pledge to attack them.

Bolton said that "the defense of Israel and other friends in the region is absolutely assured", that Trump told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the US requires assurances that Turkish forces would protect Kurdish fighters who aided the USA against ISIS, and that USA forces must "make sure ISIS is defeated and is not able to revive itself and become a threat again", according to The Washington Post.

The U.S. withdrawal from Syrian might not be as precipitous as it was originally described by President Trump.

One Israeli intelligence source told Fox News there is a "good chance" the US 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.

Bolton has urged Kurdish allies not to seek protection from Russian Federation or Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Bolton said his meetings with Turkish officials, including Erdogan, would seek to clarify uncertainty around Turkey's "objectives and capabilities" in Syria.

Turkey has been hoping for a quick withdrawal of USA troops from Syria because an offensive against the YPG could help Erdogan consolidate nationalist voters' support for his ruling AK Party in local elections in March.

Bolton was expected to explain that some USA troops based in Syria to fight ISIL will shift to Iraq with the same mission and that the al-Tanf base would remain.

Bolton said the White House expects Turkey to provide measures to ensure the safety of the Kurds, who were America's allies in their fight against the Islamic State in Syria. Bolton, who is expected to meet Tuesday with Turkish officials including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said the US would oppose any such move against its allies in the fight against IS.

Bolton also suggested some troops would remain in Syria indefinitely. In one of its most contentious moves, Washington recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocated the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, provoking a wave of indignation, particularly in the Middle East. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, called it a "disaster in the making" and said transferring security to Russian and Turkish forces could endanger the Kurds, as well as prospects for future alliances.

Visiting American officials typically avoid holding official meetings in parts of east Jerusalem, which is contested between Israelis and Palestinians.

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

The prime minister reiterated Israel's stance against Iranian foothold in Syria, saying the Jewish state is "determined to continue its efforts to prevent Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria".

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