United States exit order signed as SDF warn of potential 'genocide'

Posted December 25, 2018

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and USA counterpart Donald Trump agreed in a phone conversation on Sunday to prevent a "power vacuum" in Syria after American ground forces withdraw, the United States president and the Turkish presidency said.

"For all of the sympathizers out there of Brett McGurk remember, he was the Obama appointee who was responsible for loading up airplanes with 1.8 Billion Dollars in CASH & sending it to Iran as part of the horrific Iran Nuclear Deal", Trump tweeted, referring to the Obama-era global agreement he has since rescinded.

Youssef Hammoud, spokesman for the Syrian opposition fighters, accused the Kurdish militia of reaching out to the Syrian government to replace USA troops if they withdraw.

Trump tweeted that he and Erdogan "discussed [IS], our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of US troops from the area".

Saudi Arabia has not announced any recent aid initiatives for Syria, other than limited food assistance for 6,000 people outside Aleppo.

In a slew of tweets sent at the White House, Trump said that "Saudi Arabia has now agreed to spend the necessary money needed to help rebuild Syria, instead of the United States".

Manbij, a town in northern Syria, has been a flashpoint between Turkish forces and Kurdish militias. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

Trump also deserves credit for standing up to the war hawks within his own administration who started inventing rationales for remaining in the country: countering Iran and seeing an end to the Assad regime.

"Increased engagement from our friends, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, and others can ensure that Iran does not profit from the eradication of [IS]". Mr Trump said on Sunday that the exit will be "slow" and "highly coordinated" with Turkey. "We will see about that", he added.

On Monday, Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency reported that Turkey-backed Syrian forces had moved closer to Manbij, equipped with heavy weapons and armoured vehicles.

Allaying some of Turkey's fears was a deal reached in June according to which USA and Turkish troops would patrol the area around the Syrian town of Manbij.

Defence officials have cautioned against a timeline, but the withdrawal could begin in weeks.

A rebel spokesman said on Monday Turkish-backed Syrian forces had reinforced the area around the town of Manbij, occupied by the Kurdish fighters, in preparation for the USA withdrawal.

"That's a really good question", the commandant told his troops in Afghanistan, who are desperate to know how the confusion in Washington affects them. The President then sought assurances from Erdogan that Turkey would continue to fight ISIS and defeat the terrorist group.

The president said in another tweet Sunday that Mattis would leave his position two months earlier than planned after Mattis wrote a critical resignation letter. Trump said they discussed IS, "our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of USA troops from the area".