Pompeo confident of good outcome for Turkey and Kurds

Turkey to attack Syrian Kurds even if US doesn't withdraw FM

Trump's decision to leave Syria, which he initially said would be rapid but later slowed down, shocked US allies and angered the Kurds in Syria, who are vulnerable to attack by Turkey.

He repeated Ankara's threat to launch an offensive to eradicate Syrian Kurdish fighters from Syria.

"We recognize the Turkish people's right and President Erdogan's to defend their country from terrorists", Pompeo said Saturday, according to NPR's Michele Kelemen, who is traveling with the secretary. However, he added, "Each of the two parties has its own demands and each of them is attempting to convey them to the other, but no progress regarding these demands has been made so far".

"This is the first such pullout of American forces" since the US President Donald Trump announced that American forces would leave Syria, Rahman said.

Relations between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have been strained over United States backing for the Kurdish YPG, which Turkey views as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) waging a decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil. The YPG denies any direct organisational links to the PKK. He suggested that the protection of Kurdish allies in the country would be a redline for the withdrawal.

"We hope we can turn the corner here", Mr Pompeo added.

But outrage over the Saudi murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi has complicated the relationship.

The removal of the equipment in recent days was first reported by CNN, which quoted an administration official with direct knowledge of the operation as saying it signaled the beginning of U.S. withdrawal from the Middle Eastern country. A senior U.S. official said the Americans wanted the Saudis to give a more credible explanation of what happened and do more to punish the killers, and Mr Pompeo would press them on both points.

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In 2014, militants overran 100,000 sq km (39,000 sq miles) of Syria and neighbouring Iraq, and imposed their brutal rule on nearly 8 million people.

Trump's shock announcement on December 19 that he was withdrawing all 2,000 American troops from the conflict-wracked Middle Eastern country has led to concern among allies, including Israel, and prompted the resignation of his then defense chief Jim Mattis. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall.

Mr Trump's decision to withdraw the troops hinges on Turkey's cooperation to secure the northern border.

Syria also is complicated by the presence of Russian troops who are, in effect, propping up the Assad government, and by Iranian support for Assad.

Initial indications from the White House were that USA forces would be withdrawn from Syria in 30 days.

The US did this after several attempts at training and arming Syrian Arab rebel groups to battle IS militants descended into chaos.

Russia, which has deployed forces into Syria in support of the Damascus regime, said it had the impression that the United States wanted to stay despite the announced withdrawal of U.S. troops, RIA news agency reported.

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