Russian Federation hopes to keep hotline with USA in Syria


United States military officials will visit Turkey this week to discuss the details of the troops' withdrawal with their counterparts, a spokesman for Erdogan said on Monday. The decision was met with criticism from Washington's European allies, including Germany and France. Ankara views the Kurdish forces as terrorists due to their links to an insurgent group inside Turkey.

President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to pull troops out of Syria has handed the fight against Islamic State over to Turkey - and effectively given Ankara the green light to push into remaining Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Syria.

Trump last week ordered the withdrawal of USA ground forces deployed in Syria to provide training to the YPG under the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance fighting ISIS.

The US backed Kurdish-led forces in the oil-rich eastern Syria for four years, and its withdrawal will leave the area up for grabs.

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Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan has revealed his plans to visit Russia within the next few days and meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will travel to Russian Federation to discuss the process of withdrawal in the coming days, broadcaster CNN Turk said.

Pro-Turkish factions and opposing fighters in the city of Manbij are "consolidating their positions and massing reinforcements on the demarcation line" separating the two sides, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor.

Critics of Trump's decision fear that thousands of Islamic State (IS) group extremist members are still thought to be in Syria, despite Trump's claim of having defeated IS.

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In a Twitter posting on Monday, Trump said Erdogan vowed to continue the fight against ISIS.

Donald Trump recently declared the United States will be pulling out its almost 2,000-strong military force from Syria as the Daesh terrorist group had been crushed in the country.

The withdrawal comes on the eve of a possible Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria against the YPG/PKK terrorist group.

The deployment began over the weekend with around 100 vehicles, the Hurriyet daily said, and crossed into the Al-Bab region, headed towards Jarabulus and YPG-held Manbij.

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Trump said last month he was not considering extraditing Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for a failed 2016 coup, as part of efforts to ease Turkish pressure on Saudi Arabia over the killing of Khashoggi.