Jan 06 2019

U.S. forces will stay in Syria until Turkey assures safety of Kurds, National Security Adviser Bolton says

The U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton on Sunday said that Washington didn't want Turkey to take any military actions in Syria unless it guarantees the safety of U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces, NBC News reported

"There are objectives that we want to accomplish that condition the withdrawal," Bolton told reporters during his visit to Israel. "The timetable flows from the policy decisions that we need to implement."

The senior official said that the United States would withdraw its forces from Syria only if Turkey assured to protect the Syrian Kurdish forces that have been critical allies for the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State (IS). 

The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Jan. 3 said Washington's key priority would be to avoid a regional massacre between the Turkish military and Kurds.

The U.S. President Donald Trump had previously stated that Washington's sole mission in Syria, the defeat of IS, had been completed. According to Bolton’s statement, Washington appears to add a new condition before entirely withdrawing from the region; receiving assurances from Ankara that the Kurdish militia in northern Syria will not face an assault from Turkish forces.

Turkey sees the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) as an extension of the armed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which waged insurgency inside the county for decades. Both groups were deemed as terrorist organisations by Ankara. But, the YPG forms the backbone of the U.S.-backed coalition in the fight against the IS.