Withdrawal from Syria begun

US soldiers gather for a brief during a combined joint patrol rehearsal in Manbij Syria

US soldiers gather for a brief during a combined joint patrol rehearsal in Manbij Syria

"We are confident we can achieve an outcome that achieves both of those", Pompeo told journalists in Abu Dhabi, his latest stop in a regional tour.

Any Turkish assault on the Kurdish-held territories in Syria liberated from the Islamic State while American forces are still there may entail a potential conflict between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies. In a televised speech in December, he said Turkey's army would be ready "neutralize terrorist organizations" in upcoming months, according to the Financial Times.

The Kurds have sought Russian meditation for the talks with President Bashar al-Assad's government, part of their strategy to fill a vacuum that will be left when USA forces withdraw from the country, as instructed by President Donald Trump.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan labeled Bolton's comments unacceptable and a "grave mistake".

"It is important that we do everything we can to make sure that those folks that fought with us are protected and Erdogan has made commitments, he understands that", Pompeo said during a Wednesday visit to the Kurdistan Region capital Erbil.

Several weeks later, national security adviser John Bolton said the withdrawal will have a longer timeline, and will not be undertaken until Kurdish fighters are protected and ISIS is defeated in the war-torn country.

He said such statements were "unacceptable".

He added, "If there are other terrorists who would attempt to intervene in our intervention, then it is our duty to eliminate them as well".

Ayman Soussan, an assistant to the Syrian Foreign Minister, confirmed on Sunday that talks between Damascus and the Kurdish forces in Syria's northeast have intensified due to a possible Turkish military operation. Syria's assistance has allowed 400 fighters from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) to withdraw from the area. The YPG denies any direct organisational links to the PKK.

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"The withdrawal is based on operational conditions on the ground, including conversation with our allies and partners, and is not be subject to an arbitrary timeline", he said.

"We hope we can turn the corner here", Mr Pompeo added. He is calling for a united Arab front against what he describes as its destabilising activity and Saudi Arabia is key to that. A senior United States official said the Americans wanted the Saudis to give a more credible explanation of what happened and do more to punish the killers, and Mr Pompeo would press them on both points.

The official also would not say what part of Syria the equipment was in, although it's widely expected the drawdown will begin in northern Syria.

However, the defeat of IS is far from final.

The decision sent shockwaves through the White House, causing Defense Secretary James Mattis to resign in protest.

Mr Trump's decision to withdraw the troops hinges on Turkey's cooperation to secure the northern border.

Russian Federation said on Friday it was important for Syria's Kurds and government to start talking in light of US plans.

There are 2,000 American troops in Syria.

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