Mattis signs Syria exit order, as Turkey-backed rebels prepare for assault

Mattis signs Syria exit order, as Turkey-backed rebels prepare for assault

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart Donald Trump on Sunday talked on phone and agreed to ensure diplomatic and military coordination to prevent an authority vacuum following the USA withdrawal from Syria.

Trump tweeted that he and Erdogan "discussed [IS], our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of USA troops from the area".

In contrast with Trump's claim that the Islamic State (IS) group has been defeated in Syria, Pentagon officials had stressed earlier this year that the fight against IS isn't over.

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

Trump received criticism from Republican and Democratic lawmakers, former government leaders, and global allies for what they have perceived as a premature withdrawal of USA forces from Syria, where troops have been since 2015 assisting a Syrian Arab and Kurdish alliance fighting against IS.

The recent Turkish threats have forced many civilians to evacuate their homes on both sides of the border to avoid being targeted.

"What does this say about the foreign policy of the United States?"

TRT said Sunday that the US has already pulled out all of the 300 to 400 soldiers it had in Manbij but Kurdish forces remained in their positions.

Later in the day, the U.S. president said that getting out of Syria was no surprise and he has been campaigning for it for years.

Asked about Trump's abrupt decision to change course, the official said the president has that authority.

Yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron said he "deeply regrets" Mr Trump's decision to pull troops out of Syria and warned it could have unsafe consequences.

18 Jan Turkey has led to a state of increased combat readiness of the troops on the border with Syria, Antakya district were transferred to the tanks.

"We have won against ISIS".

The pullout in Syria was announced at a time when Kurds were engaged in a major offensive, said Rogers, and once that was complete, it would have added to more stability in syria.

The two men also agreed that trade was below the desired level between the USA and Turkey, and should be increased, the Turkish presidency added.

"During a conversation I had with Mr. Trump - he said 'ISIS, can you clear ISIS from this area?'" Erdogan recalled.

Phone calls to the U.S. Department of Defense and the Central Command seeking comment outside of normal business hours went unanswered. They have an unofficial embassy in Moscow. Iraqi and United States troops are on the border in force and Iraq's Air Force conducts occasional cross-border forays, targeting ISIS positions within Syria that pose a threat to Iraq.

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