US Troops To Stay in Syria Until ISIS Defeated

April FrancisJan 08, 2019

"The Golan Heights is tremendously important for our security", Netanyahu said in Jerusalem, alongside U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton on Sunday night, adding Israel "will never leave the Golan Heights", and stressed the gravity of all countries recognizing the region as Israeli territory.

Earlier on January 6, Bolton said the US will not withdraw troops from northeastern Syria until Turkish government guarantees fight against ISIL and that it won't attack "Kurdish fighters".

Trump overruled US national security officials and surprised allies with his December 19 announcement he was withdrawing the USA troops from Syria, where they have carried out air attacks on Islamic State and Syrian positions and advised Kurdish fighters.

John Bolton said there was no timeline for the troops' withdrawal, which was initially expected to be completed within weeks of Trump's abrupt announcement last month. "There is no doubt that a terror group can not be an ally of the United States".

But Trump appeared to indicate Sunday that Iran and Russian Federation, whose forces in Syria back Assad, were potential USA allies against the Islamic State.

In this March 31, 2018 photo, a Syrian woman with her kids walks in front of buildings that were destroyed during a battle between the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces fighters and ISIL militants in Manbij, north Syria.

The Kurds in northeastern Syria say they hold around 1,000 foreign fighters, as well as 550 foreign women and 1,200 children who lived with them.

Responding to Bolton's remarks, Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin maintained Turkey's opposition to the YPG, which he described as oppressing Syrian Kurds.

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But while Bolton's comments may have come as a relief to some, a top House Democrat stressed that the priorities the national security adviser outlined were "obvious" - and simply highlighted how risky Trump's initial withdrawal announcement was. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. He told CBS' "Face the Nation" that "the bottom line here is we want to make sure we get this right, that ISIS doesn't come back".

The move prompted the resignations of U.S. defence secretary Jim Mattis and top USA official Brett McGurk, as analysts and military experts said the threat posed by IS still remains.

Ziya Meral, director of the London and Beirut-based Centre on Religion and Global Affairs, said it would be "naive" for the United States to expect Turkey not to "interfere" in Syria while the YPG remained in control across the border.

Mr Netanyahu said he would discuss Iran's ambitions in Syria when he met Mr Bolton on Sunday evening.

Earlier, Bolton paid a visit to East Jerusalem's Western Wall, the most sacred site to Jews.

Bolton said there was no timetable for the USA withdrawal from Syria but that there was not an unlimited commitment.

"One can debate the merits and wisdom of the long-term United States presence in north-east Syria", he said, "but certainly the way it was announced and the chaos that followed - with the resignation of [Defence Secretary James] Mattis and [Syria Special Envoy Brett] McGurk - really played to the advantage of the adversaries of the U.S. and the West".

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will begin a week-long tour of the Middle East created to reassure allies in the region. "Moreover, unlike the issue of Jerusalem, the Golan wouldn't be part of any future Israel-Palestinian peace agreement, making US recognition of Israeli sovereignty much more straightforward than any issue involving Jerusalem or other territories like the West Bank".

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