USA asks Turkey to 'not slaughter' Kurds, following American troop

How Afrin overshadows eastern Syria

How Afrin overshadows eastern Syria

US national security adviser John Bolton says he will travel to Israel and Turkey to discuss the withdrawal of USA troops from Syria and how Washington and its allies intend to counter Iran's "malign behavior" in the region.

"Minister Pompeo's equating the PYD/YPG terrorist organization with the Kurds, even if not deliberate, indicates a worrying lack of knowledge", Hami Aksoy, spokesperson for Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a published statement on Friday. Turkey also criticized Pompeo for using the general term "Kurds" to refer specifically to the YPG, a USA -backed Kurdish militia that Turkey considers a terrorist organization. It has threatened a new cross-border offensive in northern Syria to drive out the YPG.

The sources said the YPG is aiming to strike a deal on "filling the gap" following the United States decision to withdraw from Syria, and to also cut off any Turkish interference in the north and northeast of Syria.

Trump later downplayed the contribution made by Kurds in the battle against Islamic State, saying they're "better fighters when they have USA fighters jets helping them", and accusing them of selling oil to Iran. Brett McGurk, the chief USA envoy for the coalition against Islamic State, also resigned.

Earlier in the day, Middle East Eye reported citing unnamed sources that President Donald Trump had sought assurances from Erdogan that a Turkish move against Kurdish forces in Syria would not create a humanitarian crisis.

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Kurds, however, point to Afrin as evidence of Turkey's true intention.

Ankara has continued to insist on a Kurdish withdrawal beyond the Euphrates ever since - and has signaled that it plans to launch another operation against the "terrorists" once USA forces leave the region. "We still have lots of things to work on with the Turks".

On Thursday, Pompeo said that "the importance of ensuring that the Turks don't slaughter the Kurds" was "still part of the American mission" in Syria, even as the U.S. military prepares to pull out of the country.

Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton is due to visit Israel and Turkey in the coming days.

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