Regional Players Prepare for Imminent US Pullout from Syria

U.S. Senator Graham speaks to reporters after attending a closed-door briefing on the Khashoggi death by CIA Director Haspel at the U.S. Capitol in Washington

President Donald Trump's plan to withdraw USA troops from Syria has triggered alarm among the largely Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

A spokesman for Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters said that his fighters would not accept the return of government forces to areas in eastern Syria, including Manbij town, after USA forces withdraw.

Turkey is reportedly trying to coordinate with the American government and Russian Federation its efforts to push the YPG, considered terrorists by Ankara, out of the territory it controls in northern Syria, which lies along the Turkish border, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu declared Tuesday.

A number of the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states have criticized Turkey for its planned purchase of S-400 missile defense systems from Russian Federation, stating that the move could jeopardize Ankara's acquisition of F-35 fighter jets.

Last week, Trump ordered the withdrawal of the 2,000 USA troops fighting ISIS in Syria.

Cavusoglu told Turkish media during a briefing that Ankara has "the power to neutralize [ISIS] alone" amid fears that a U.S. pull-out will hurt the fight against the militant group.

"Especially if he was going to say he has no plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, because those troops can be staged to deal with ISIS", regular host Dana Perino agreed.

Turkey-backed Syrian rebels say they have been mobilizing to launch the next offensive, with their first target the town of Manbij that borders the territory under their control. Cavusoglu hit out at French "support" of the YPG, which he said was "no secret" as he slammed French officials' meetings with leaders of the SDF's political wing last week.

"We will see what President Donald Trump's declared decision to pull out of Syria comes to", he added.

The shock move put allies on the backfoot, with Macron on Sunday saying: "An ally must be reliable".

American support for the YPG, under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, has always been a source of tension between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, the USA and Turkey.

The head of the MMC, Mohammed Abu Adel, told the Kurdish-run Kurdistan24 news website that Syrian troops have been in Arima since a year ago but they have recently sent reinforcements as Russian soldiers arrived in the town. They also called for French support in assuring the region's peace and stability.

"We have defeated ISIS [Daesh] in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency."

Mr Trump's decision has emboldened Turkey to press ahead with plans to clear Manbij of Kurdish forces.

Russia closely coordinates its actions in Syria with Turkey, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

Mr Hammoud said one main aim of the Turkey-led operation to reclaim eastern Syria was to create the conditions and space for the return of refugees and displaced persons, who fled the Syrian government.

This week, the Iranians again tried to ignore the 50-mile range from the Israeli border and placed forces there, perhaps because they believed that the Russian army would not allow the IDF to operate in Syria - where Russian S-300 surface-to-air missiles are deployed.



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