Trump will bring troops home from Syria 'slowly'

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The president's decision to withdraw USA forces, announced on December 19, surprised top administration officials and allies whose troops are fighting alongside U.S. in a coalition to defeat the Islamic State terrorist group.

Graham told reporters that Trump was committed to making sure Turkey did not clash with the Kurdish YPG forces once USA troops leave Syria, and was assuring the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally that it would have a buffer zone in the region to help protect its own interests.

Following the Kurds" liberation of Manbij from IS in August 2016, Turkey invaded Syria in a military operation dubbed "Euphrates Shield', capturing a swath of territory in the north. Mediation by Russian Federation and the USA prevented a direct conflict between the Turkish-backed militias and Kurds in Manbij at the time, but Ankara has continued to insist on a Kurdish withdrawal beyond the Euphrates ever since. "We will continue the same way as before this decision was made", Pompeo said. "But the goal has always been the same". In June 2018, the USA entrusted the management of the city to the "Military Council of Manbij" and organized common patrols there with Turkey. But "other people do", and he concluded: "We want to protect the Kurds".

The YPG seized Manbij from the Islamic State group in 2016 and U.S. forces have continued to support the Kurdish fighters in their battle against the jihadists.

Kuwait's Deputy foreign minister Khaled Al-Jarallah said the Gulf state remained committed to the Arab League's decision and would reopen its embassy in Damascus once the organisation allowed it.

During a 95-minute Cabinet meeting at the White House the president also lambasted European allies for not taking a bigger role in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. "The pause is to assess the effects of the conditions on the ground".

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"We're talking about sand and death, that's what we're talking about", Trump said. "ISIS is mostly gone, we're slowly sending our troops back home to be with their families, while at the same time fighting ISIS remnants", Trump tweeted. He reiterated that he has fought against the "never-ending wars".

"It is Fake News and Pundits who have FAILED for years that are doing the complaining. Just doing what I said I was going to do!" the president said.

Those concerns are shared at the top of Trump's own Republican party.

CNN reported that Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had communed with national security adviser, John R. Bolton, before the two men travel to Turkey and Israel.

Saying that the Taliban and Islamic State terrorists are "fighting each other" in parts of Afghanistan, he said he told the generals, "Why don't you let them fight?"

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