SHAFAQNA- “Donald Trump’s plan to pull military forces out of Syria should be put into action carefully and with the right partners”, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said.
In an opinion piece published in The New York Times on Monday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his American counterpart “made the right call” last month to withdraw some 2,000 US forces from Syria.
It is a sentiment repeated in the Turkish president’s column on Monday, which urges the United States to carefully plan its withdrawal and cooperate with the “right partners.”
“Turkey, which has NATO’s second largest standing army, is the only country with the power and commitment to perform that task,” Erdoğan’s column said, ahvalnews reported.
The Turkish head of state further warned the international community against repeating the same mistakes Washington and its allies had made in Iraq, press tv reported.
Erdogan’s comments come amid an uncertainty surrounding the timeframe for the US exit. Trump administration officials have made it clear that the troop withdrawal from northeastern Syria would not happen quickly.
Erdogan slams Bolton over YPG comments
A day earlier, Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton added a new condition to the US withdrawal, saying Turkey must agree to protect US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in Syria, which is viewed by Ankara as a terrorist group.
In an address to lawmakers from his ruling justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara on Tuesday, Erdogan slammed Bolton’s comments in Israel as “unacceptable” and a “grave mistake.”
“The United States would only pull out of Syria if Turkey pledged not to attack its Kurdish allies there”, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Tuesday.
“Bolton’s remarks in Israel are not acceptable. It is not possible for me to swallow this,” Erdogan said during a speech in parliament. “Bolton made a serious mistake. If he thinks that way, he is in a big mistake. We will not compromise”, CNN reported.
The US has been arming and training Kurdish militants under the banner of helping them fight Daesh, but Syria and several other countries see ulterior motives behind the deployment.
Syria and its allies pushed the Takfiri terrorist group out of its last stronghold in the eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr early last year.
Turkey, a key US ally in the region, has repeatedly questioned Washington’s deployment of heavy weapons in Syria despite the defeat of Daesh in much of the Arab country.
Ankara views the YPG as a branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting a decades-long deadly war against Turkey for an independent state in the country’s southeast.
Kurdish forces, who were left exposed by Trump’s pledge to pull out American soldiers from Syria, have asked Syrian government forces for help amid indications that Turkey is considering a military campaign against them.
Over the past two years, Turkey has conducted operations against Kurdish militants in parts of northern Syria that lie west of the Euphrates River. It has not gone east of the river, partly to avoid direct confrontation with US forces.
In December, however, Erdogan announced plans to start a new military operation in Syria and then decided to delay it following Trump’s withdrawal announcement.
Turkey has been infuriated by US support for the YPG, which forms the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an anti-Damascus alliance of predominantly Kurdish militants.
US must hand Syria bases to Turkey or destroy them
Meanwhile, Turkey’s English-language Hurriyet newspaper reported that during the talks with the US delegation on Tuesday, Ankara would ask Washington to either hand over US military bases in Syria to Turkey or destroy them.
“Give them or destroy them,” the newspaper’s headline said, in reference to 22 US military bases in Syria.
The daily cited unspecified sources as saying that Ankara would not accept Washington handing the bases over to the YPG.
A senior Turkish security official also told Reuters last week that Washington needed to allow Turkey to use its bases in Syria.
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