Bolton heads to Turkey to hammer out a deal for Syria's Kurds

Larry Hoffman
January 8, 2019

White House national security adviser John Bolton added a new condition on Sunday to the USA withdrawal from Syria, saying Turkey must agree to protect the United States' Kurdish allies.

"Israel's northern border has become increasingly unsafe in recent weeks with the discovery of Hezbollah's terror tunnels and Bashar al Assad's continued efforts to consolidate control of Syria with the assistance of Iranian shock troops", Cruz and Cotton said.

In Washington, Trump told reporters at the White House that "we are pulling back in Syria. We won." But on Sunday, Trump told reporters he "never said we're doing it that quickly".

Trump's move, which led to the resignation of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, has raised fears over clearing the way for a Turkish assault on the Kurdish fighters.

The talks are likely to be contentious, as Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, a terrorist group linked to an insurgency within its borders, and has threatened to mount a campaign against the groups.

Bolton was scheduled to travel to Ankara, Turkey, Monday to meet with Turkish officials to discuss the country's role in Syria upon the U.S.'s departure.

"We don't think the Turks ought to undertake military action that's not fully coordinated with and agreed to by the United States", Mr Bolton said.

He toured archaeological excavations there, accompanied by the head of Israel's National Security Council, Meir Ben Shabat, and the USA ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. It is believed the attack, which also injured several coalition fighters, took place this morning. He added that the meeting comes as Israel and the USA are "deepening' their "intelligence and operative cooperation".

"Israel gained possession over the Golan Heights in a defensive war over 50 years ago, and has responsibly controlled the area ever since".

After Trump announced his withdrawal plan, Turkey began to deploy military vehicles and troops close to a northwest Syrian town that it has long sought to capture, Bloomberg reports.

"The Golan Heights is tremendously important for our security", Netanyahu said.

USA president Donald Trump said in December that he was withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria, where he claimed Isis had been defeated.

Among the policy decisions still to be made was what to do about the tens of thousands of Syrian Kurdish fighters that U.S. forces had trained, armed and advised to carry out the ground war against the Islamic State.

Although the withdrawal is bound to happen, Bolton said there are circumstances that would bring the United States back to Syria.

"I'm going to follow what the president said", Bolton added during the press conference. Trump himself, however, also toured the area in a previous visit. Over the past week, Bolton has acknowledged that ISIS is not yet vanquished and still has the capacity for "reviving" itself; United States allies in the region still require our protection; and that the withdrawal is limited to "northeastern Syria".

The withdrawal will be contingent on assurances from Turkey that they won't slaughter the Kurds, the development of an exit strategy that prevents Iran from gaining more regional influence, defense of regional US allies, and prevention of any future resurgence of ISIS.

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