Turkey Hails Pompeo Comments Over Defense Against 'Terrorists'

US soldiers gather for a brief during a combined joint patrol rehearsal in Manbij Syria

US soldiers gather for a brief during a combined joint patrol rehearsal in Manbij Syria

"Timetables or the timing of the withdrawal occurs as a result of the fulfillment of the conditions and the establishment of the circumstances that we want to see", Bolton said Sunday, which struck a different tone than the December 19 announcement White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders made, in which she said the USA had already begun pulling American troops. The spokesman added that, to protect security, the coalition would not provide details on troop movements.

About 10 armored vehicles in addition to some engineering machines pulled out of Rmeilan, Syria, Thursday night headed for Iraq, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the Syrian conflict.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to "devastate Turkey economically" if it attacks Kurdish forces in Syria following a planned pullout of US troops.

Over recent weeks, senior USA officials have offered confusing and contradictory accounts of the terms and speed with which the U.S. is leaving.

Seeking to quell concern about the US troop withdrawal from Syria, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday described the American exit as a "tactical change" in military strategy that wouldn't deter efforts to defeat ISIS or hurt USA interests in the region.

A spokesperson for the USA -led coalition against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) said the withdrawal had gone ahead despite mixed messages from the White House over the fate of the 2,000 troops operating in the country.

USA forces have fought alongside a Kurdish militia in northern Syria against the Islamic State (IS) group.

Special representative for Syria Jim Jeffrey, a former US envoy to Turkey and Iraq, is expected to return to Turkey to continue discussions, Pompeo added.

Hours earlier, Colonel Sean Ryan, spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, said "the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria" has started.

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His announcement, which came after a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was criticised even within his own camp and is already having major repercussions on the almost eight-year-old conflict.

Turkey, however, regards the People's Protection Units (YPG) as terrorists.

Turkish officials on Thursday continued to threaten an invasion of Syrian Kurdistan where U.S. troops still serve along Kurdish-led forces in the fight against the Islamic State even if President Donald Trump's administration backpedals on the withdrawal decision.

On Sunday, National Security Adviser John Bolton set out stringent conditions for the proposed withdrawal, saying the defense of allies must first be assured. -Turkish consultations as part of the "deliberate and coordinated" withdrawal of American forces from Syria.

Pompeo's remarks follow tensions between the USA and Turkey over the fate of Washington's allies in the fight against ISIS.

The U.S. -led military coalition in Syria has begun the process of withdrawing from Syria amid conflicting reports over the status of troops.

The Kurds have sought Russian meditation for the talks with President Bashar al-Assad's government, part of their strategy to fill a vacuum that will be left when U.S. forces withdraw from the country, as instructed by President Donald Trump.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is on a tour of the region, has also sought to reassure the Kurds that they will be safe after U.S. troops withdraw from the country.

A political deal could piece back together the two biggest chunks of a country splintered by eight years of war, leaving one corner of the northwest in the hands of anti-Assad rebels backed by Turkey - an adversary of both the YPG and Damascus.

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