Turkey bolsters military on Syrian border as US readies pull-out


USA officials justified the decision by saying Islamic State had been defeated.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan talks during a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Dec. 20, 2018.

In a post on Twitter, Trump said he and Erdogan had discussed "the slow & highly coordinated pullout of U.S. troops from the area".

Both Russia and Iran support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime in the country's civil war, but Mr. Netanyahu sees Israel working "full force" with its US ally despite Mr. Trump's Syria withdrawal announcement on Wednesday. A day earlier, Erdogan had announced that he would postpone a military operation against the Kurdish YPG forces.

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"I very deeply regret the decision made on Syria", Macron said during a news conference in Chad.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the withdrawal of USA troops from Syria will not influence his country's determination to "act against Iran's attempts to entrench itself militarily in Syria". Part of the military equipment and personnel are to be positioned in posts along the border while some had crossed into Syria via the district of Elbeyli, DHA said.

The US special envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State group, Brett McGurk, has also resigned. It added that troops brought to the area include members of the Tiger Force, an elite unit that defeated rebels and IS gunmen on several fronts over the past two years.

When Trump made his pull-out decision, McGurk was in Iraq briefing coalition partners about how the USA remained committed to keeping troops in Syria, both to finish off IS and counter Iran.

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Turkey accuses the YPG of being an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency against Ankara. As a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, Turkey values its ties with the USA, considering it a strategic partner.

Until Trump finds a permanent defense leader, Shanahan will lead plans for U.S. troops to leave Syria along with a significant drawdown in Afghanistan, both of which critics worry will leave war-torn regions at risk of continued and potentially heightened bloodshed.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the government sent thousands of its elite forces to Deir el-Zour that borders Iraq, where IS holds the last area under its control in Syria. "Staying in Syria offers grave risk for the United States with no justifying security payoff", says Kurt Couchman of Defense Priorities, a libertarian-leaning think tank. USA to Pull Out Troops From Syria, Donald Trump Declares Victory Over ISIS.

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