Trump wants safe withdrawal of USA troops from Syria - White House


US President Donald Trump's national security adviser said Sunday during a visit to Israel that the American military withdrawal from Syria must be done with the defense of allies "assured".

"There are objectives that we want to accomplish that condition the withdrawal", Bolton told reporters in Jerusalem, on a trip meant to allay Israeli leaders' concerns about Trump's announcement.

An official traveling with Bolton said there is no timeline for the withdrawal of USA troops from Syria, but Trump had been assured "this can be done in weeks".

The move shocked U.S. allies and American defence officials alike, with USA defence secretary Jim Mattis and a top U.S. official in the fight against so-called Islamic State, Brett McGurk, resigning soon after.

Turkey considers many Kurdish separatist groups - including the People's Protection Units, aka the YPG, which leads the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces - to be terrorist organizations.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton is due to hold talks Monday in Turkey as the Trump administration seeks assurances that Turkish forces will not target Kurdish fighters allied with American forces. "We have wiped out ISIS in Iraq", Trump said.

Bolton is also slated to visit Turkey.

But in a sign of uncertainty within the USA government over whether conditions for a U.S. withdrawal from Syria had changed, a State Department official directed a query from Al-Monitor today about the Syria withdrawal to the National Security Council.

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One Israeli intelligence source told Fox News there is a "good chance" the USA will heed the request, as quite simply "they live there, they recognize it as Israeli", and it's just a matter of the United States also making that formal recognition.

Netanyahu stressed Israel's right over the Golan Heights at a joint press conference with Bolton, a day after the latter arrived in Israel, according to a report on Ynet News.

"Israel gained possession over the Golan Heights in a defensive war over 50 years ago, and has responsibly controlled the area ever since".

Trump was not specific about a time frame, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters after meeting with Trump. Trump had faced widespread criticism from allies about his decision, announced in mid-December, that he was pulling all 2,000 US troops from Syria.

Trump contended, however, that he did not say the withdrawal would happen immediately and that he is committed to a "slow and coordinated [U.S.] pullout" from Syria.

This is an act of desperation by the Kurds since Assad will never agree to one of the Kurds' primary goals: an autonomous region they can call home in Syria. "The primary point is we are going to withdraw from northeastern Syria", he said. "Should Netanyahu get his wish, then we might also be another step closer to Israel's formal annexation of some, or all, of the occupied West Bank".

Trump also praised both Pompeo and Bolton, and gave no indication he thought Bolton was straying from his instructions.

Trump had said in his December 19 withdrawal announcement that US forces "have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency", and added in a video posted to Twitter, "Now it's time for our troops to come back home".