Trump gives no timetable for Syria exit, wants to protect Kurds

President Donald Trump listens during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, in Washington. (AP)
Updated 02 January 2019

Trump gives no timetable for Syria exit, wants to protect Kurds

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the United States would get out of Syria “over a period of time” and wants to protect the US-backed Kurdish fighters in the country as Washington draws down troops.
Trump did not provide a timetable for the planned military exit from Syria, which he announced last month against the advice of top national security aides and without consulting lawmakers or US allies participating in anti-Daesh operations.
The decision prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign.
During a Cabinet meeting at the White House in front of reporters, Trump said he had never discussed a reported four-month timetable for the withdrawal of 2,000 American troops stationed in Syria amid a battle against Daesh militants.
In recent days, Trump appeared to back off from any hasty pullout and stressed that the operation would be slow. “We’re slowly sending our troops back home to be with their families, while at the same time fighting Isis [Daesh] remnants,” he said on Twitter on Monday.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he came out of a lunch with Trump feeling reassured about the Syria policy.
Graham told reporters that Trump was committed to making sure Turkey did not clash with the Kurdish YPG forces once US troops leave Syria, and was assuring the NATO ally that it would have a buffer zone in the region to help protect its own interests.
Turkey views the YPG as a branch of its own Kurdish separatist movement and is threatening to launch an offensive against the group, igniting fears of significant civilian casualties.
US commanders planning the US withdrawal are recommending that YPG fighters battling Daesh be allowed to keep US-supplied weapons, according to US officials.
That proposal would likely anger Turkey, where Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, is expected to hold talks this week.


Court testimony claims Turkish general killed after discovering Qatar extremist funding

Updated 04 August 2020

Court testimony claims Turkish general killed after discovering Qatar extremist funding

  • Explosive courtroom transcript says Brig. Gen. Semih Terzi was killed because he knew too much about Turkish general's murky dealings in Syria
  • Turkish officials accused of embezzling money sent from Qatar to arm Syrian militants

LONDON: A Turkish general killed during a failed coup was executed after he found out Qatar was funneling money to extremist groups in Syria through Turkey, according to explosive courtroom claims.

Brig. Gen. Semih Terzi was shot dead in July 2016 during an attempt by some military officers to overthrow the government of Recip Tayyip Erdogan. The alleged plotters were accused of being followers of the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen.

According to a courtroom transcript obtained by the anti-Erdogan Nordic Monitor website, Terzi’s killing was ordered by Lt. Gen. Zekai Aksakalli, the then head of Turkey’s Special Forces Command.

The website claims the testimony came from Col. Firat Alakus, who worked in the intelligence section of the Special Forces Command, during a hearing at the 17th High Criminal Court in Ankara in March, 2019.

Alakus said Terzi had discovered that Aksakalli was working secretly with the Turkish intelligence agency (MIT) in running illegal operations in Syria for personal gain.

“[Terzi] knew how much of the funding delivered [to Turkey] by Qatar for the purpose of purchasing weapons and ammunition for the opposition was actually used for that and how much of it was actually used by public officials, how much was embezzled,” Alakus said. 

He added that Terzi’s knowledge of Aksakalli’s murky dealings was the real reason Aksakalli ordered his execution.

Terzi was killed after Aksakalli ordered him back to Ankara from a border province as the failed coup attempt unfolded, Alakus said.

Other accounts say Terzi was one of the main coup plotters and was killed leading an attempt to capture the special forces headquarters in the capital.

Along with the Qatari claim, Alakus said Terzi also knew the details of Turkey’s involvement in oil smuggling from Syria and how government officials aided extremist militant commanders.

He also objected to Turkish intelligence supplying weapons and training to extremist Syrian factions who were passed off as moderate opposition fighters.

“[Terzi’s murder] had to do with a trap devised by Zekai Aksakalli, who did not want such facts to come out into the open,” Alakus said.

Alakus was jailed for life in June 2019 after being convicted for taking part in the coup.