Let down by US, Syrian Kurdish leaders look to Russian Federation and Assad

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi

Turkish officials have said that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan heavily weighed in the decision by his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump to pull all 2,000 American troops from Syria.

Russia salutes the United States troops' withdrawal from Syria, announced by the USA administration last week, but still has questions related to the process, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

Manbij was seized in 2016 from Islamic State (IS) group by the Kurdish-led, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. Instead, once Mr Erdogan asked him whether there was any point to the USA deployment in Syria now that the militant Islamic State group had been more or less defeated, Mr Trump signalled his agreement and asked his national security adviser, John Bolton, to arrange a withdrawal. "We are not willing to accept an Iranian entrenchment in Syria that is directed against us".

He referred to Turkey's cross-border offensive launched in August 2016 against the IS in northern Syria and said Ankara would take all measures to avoid a power vacuum after the USA withdrawal.

A Turkish foreign ministry delegation would go to Washington for talks in early January, he added.

Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdish PKK movement which has been waging a 34-year-long insurgency in southeastern Turkey.

In June, the United States and Turkey reached an agreement that would see the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia ousted from the town, but Turkey says its implementation has been delayed. Turkey is an active member of the Global Coalition Against Daesh and is co-chairing Counter-Daesh Coalition Working Group on Foreign Terrorist Fighters.

Turkey has sent reinforcements at the border with Syria in the previous days, with local media reporting that some vehicles had crossed it.

On Monday, Turkish-backed Syrian rebels reinforced the area around Manbij.

Speaking to air force cadets at the Hatzerim Air Force Base on December 26, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Trump's decision to remove American troops from Syria "does not change our policies-we will maintain our red lines in Syria and everywhere else".

Mr Abu Adel, on Tuesday said there is no sign of an imminent Turkish attack on Manbij, despite claims by Turkish-backed rebels that they are pressing ahead with an assault.

"It doesn't mean that we gave up on our determination and operations we will launch against the YPG in the future", he said. Several sources also reported the deployment of French special forces in Syrian territory, but Paris has not confirmed this information.

The decision prompted the resignation of both his Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and envoy for the global coalition to defeat IS, Brett McGurk. "There will thus be a need for tighter coordination between Turkey, Russia, and Iran, including on Ankara's concerns and intended steps in Syria".

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