Turkey says US team coming to discuss Syria troops withdrawal

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A US military delegation will visit Turkey this week to discuss the withdrawal of American ground forces from Syria, after US President Donald Trump's shock decision last week to order the pull-out of 2,000 troops
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Trump’s sudden decision sparked turmoil within his administration, prompting the resignation of Brett McGurk, the special envoy to the anti-Daesh coalition, as well as Mattis. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 December 2018
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Turkey says US team coming to discuss Syria troops withdrawal

  • The announcement shocked global partners and American politicians alike
  • US troops will leave under the auspices of a new Pentagon chief set to start next month

WASHINGTON: A US military delegation will visit Turkey this week to discuss the withdrawal of American ground forces from Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman said on Monday.
"They will discuss how to coordinate (the withdrawal) with their counterparts," Ibrahim Kalin told a news conference in Ankara after US President Donald Trump's shock decision last week to order the pull-out of 2,000 troops.
The US has for years supported the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the fight against the Daesh terrorist group in Syria.
Critics of Trump's move fear that thousands of Daesh members could make gains in Syria, despite the US leader's claim that the group had been defeated.
"There is no question of a step backwards, vulnerability or a slowdown in the fight against Daesh," Kalin vowed, adding: "Turkey will show the same determination against Daesh... We can bring peace to this region."
He referred to Turkey's cross-border offensive launched in August 2016 against Daesh in northern Syria and said Ankara would take all measures to avoid a power vacuum after the US withdrawal.
Kalin said there would be further talks between the two countries' foreign ministries and other departments including a meeting planned in Washington on January 8.
"There will be intensive traffic" between officials, he added, a day after Trump and Erdogan held a telephone conversation agreeing to coordinate the Syria pull-out.
Trump's order came as Ankara warned it would launch an operation east of the Euphrates River against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia which dominates the SDF.
Ankara says the YPG is a "terrorist offshoot" of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.
Although Turkey said it would postpone the offensive, a Turkish military convoy has arrived in the Turkish border district of Elbeyli carrying howitzers and artillery batteries.
Parts of the convoy entered Syria, the private IHA news agency reported.


Security tops agenda as Iraqi PM visits Egypt in first foreign trip

Updated 23 March 2019
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Security tops agenda as Iraqi PM visits Egypt in first foreign trip

  • After meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Abdul Mahdi highlighted “the importance of drying up the sources of terrorism”
  • The visit to Egypt is Abdul Mahdi’s first trip abroad since taking office in October

CAIRO: Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi sought Egypt’s support for efforts to tackle extremist militants in the region during a visit to Cairo on Saturday, his first trip abroad since taking office in October.
After meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Abdul Mahdi highlighted “the importance of drying up the sources of terrorism” and said “cooperation between Egypt and Iraq will be essential for this matter,” according to an official statement.
His comments came as US-backed forces said they had captured Daesh’s last shred of territory in eastern Syria at Baghouz, ending its territorial rule over a self-proclaimed caliphate straddling Syria and Iraq after years of fighting.
Though the defeat ends the group’s grip over the extremist quasi-state that it declared in 2014, it remains a threat.
Some Daesh fighters still hold out in Syria’s remote central desert and in Iraqi cities they have slipped into the shadows, staging sudden shootings or kidnappings and awaiting a chance to rise again.
The United States thinks the group’s leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, is in Iraq.
Defeating militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and restoring security after years of unrest has been a key promise of El-Sisi, the general-turned-president who came to power a year after the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Mursi in 2013.
Egypt has fought an insurgency waged by a Daesh affiliate in North Sinai since 2013. Hundreds of members of the security forces have been killed.