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Pompeo: 'If we have to, we will strike Syria'

11 January 2019

He said their meeting was "productive".

It is yet unclear whether the US withdrawal will happen, right now it appears that it has been slowed, possibly to a standstill.

Regarding Yemen, Pompeo declared, the US has helped coalition partners "take the lead in preventing an Iranian expansion that would be disastrous for world trade and regional security".

Officials have told CNN that one way they expect to demonstrate progress in meeting Trump's wish is to start discussing percentages of military equipment that will be pulled out of Syria - even though its expected no actual troops are coming out soon.

On Wednesday, Joint Staff officials said reports of Gen. Dunford's comments regarding the observation posts were false. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorised to disclose the information publicly.

Theodore Karasik, a Washington-based Gulf analyst, tells VOA that Pompeo's visit was the "third by a senior USA official to Baghdad in as many weeks", and he was hoping to "reassure (Iraqi leaders).about the restructuring of (U.S.) forces and operations in the region".

Mattis also rejected Turkey's charge that the YPG fighters within SDF were allied with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), which has been labeled a terrorist group by the U.S., Turkey and the European Union.

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Earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to meet with Bolton during a trip to Ankara and said he is making a "serious mistake".

National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said USA officials were told Erdogan cited local election season and a speech to parliament for not meeting with Bolton.

The announcement led to the resignation of former U.S. defence chief Jim Mattis, and it has highlighted the shaky and often contradictory messages coming from senior officials within the Trump administration - including the president himself, who has waffled when pressed to provide a timeframe for the withdrawal of about 2,000 United States troops.

Recent statements by Trump's advisers indicate a continued commitment to "protect the Kurds", referring to the U.S. allies Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG), from a Turkish military operation.

President Donald Trump on Monday sought to end fears of an abrupt United States (US) pullout from Syria, saying the fight against the Islamic State group was not over and that withdrawal would be done in a "prudent" manner.

But he promised his audience that the Trump administration was ushering in a new era of US foreign policy.

According to the diplomats, many Arab capitals, especially Saudi Arabia which has been funding the USA troop presence, will not want a situation that could allow for a wider Iranian presence in Syria.

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Mr Erdoğan - who considers the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorists - said Turkey would "not make concessions" and preparations for an offensive were almost complete.

The senior administration official said the USA will defeat remaining IS fighters on the way out to prevent a resurgence and that the U.S. will oppose any mistreatment of opposition forces, such as the SDF, that fought with the United States against IS.

"After being so intertwined and engaged with a terrorist organization, it is not that easy to leave that terrorist organization", he added, referring to the YPG.

The announcement shocked allies and several United States defence officials, including Defence Secretary James Mattis, resigned shortly afterwards.

The furious response in Ankara was the latest setback for the White House's troubled effort to extricate 2000 American troops from Syria - a withdrawal Mr Trump announced suddenly last month without a detailed plan to implement it.

Trump withdrew the USA from the Iran nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May 2018.

Bolton's spokesman Garrett Marquis described the talks as "productive" and centred on "the president's decision to withdraw at a proper pace from northeast Syria".

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Pompeo: 'If we have to, we will strike Syria'