The pullout of U.S. troops from Syria continues to make waves across the Middle East as well as elsewhere, including Europe, where NATO allies are discussing America’s decision to withdraw its troops from the coalition force it has led since before the start of President Donald Trump’s tenure.
The president added to those waves and added a new set on Sunday when he said Sunday that he had a “long and productive” phone call with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the fight against the Islamic State terror organization.
“We discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, and the slow and highly coordinated pullout of U.S. troops from the area,” Trump said in a tweet. “After many years they are coming home.”
Erdogan’s office confirmed the call, according to the Daily Sabah, saying the two men agreed to coordinate in order to prevent formation of a power vacuum as U.S. troops are drawn down from Syria.
According to the report, Trump’s initial announcement that the U.S. would withdraw troops from Syria came in the wake of a conversation with Erdogan over an imminent Turkish cross-border operation to “eliminate the northern Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).”
Erdogan continues to insist the YPG is affiliated with the PKK terror organization across the border in Turkey, but that view is not shared by everyone else in the region. U.S. troops have been working closely together with some of those forces in the fight against the Islamic State terror group.
An eyewitness quoted by Reuters said he saw hundreds of Turkish military vehicles moving into the southern border province of Kilis from neighboring Hatay Province. Turkey’s IHA news agency reported that a convoy of Turkish forces crossed into Syria during the night of December 22-23.
The Turkish military has not commented on the troop movements.
Following the U.S. decision to withdraw American troops, Erdogan said Friday that Turkey would postpone its cross-border operation into areas controlled by the YPG, at least for now.
U.S. Secretary of State James Mattis last Thursday submitted his resignation to the president over the decision. One day later, U.S. envoy Brett McGurk, America’s representative to the coalition forces fighting the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria, also resigned his post for the same reason.
Although Mattis gave two months’ notice, saying he would leave his post on February 28 in order to ensure a smooth transition, http://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/trump-says-deputy-defense-secy-to-replace-mattis-jan-1/2018/12/23/ — a full two months early.
Trump has said he will remain at the White House in Washington DC this year for the duration of the holiday. The family in previous years has traditionally spent the holiday at Mar-a-Lago in Florida.