United States strikes in Syria persist despite troop pullout order

Marsha Scott
January 7, 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he would discuss Iranian ambitions in neighbouring Syria when he meets Sunday evening with USA national security advisor John Bolton in Jerusalem.

Trump said on Wednesday the United States would get out of Syria slowly "over a period of time" and would protect US-backed Kurdish fighters in the country as Washington draws down troops.

Since Trump's announced USA troop withdrawal from Syria, which prompted the resignation of his Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, he has repeatedly backed up his vow to bring home American forces from Syria but later noted that the withdrawal would be "slow and coordinated".

Turkey's presidential spokesman called allegations that his country planned to attack the US -allied Kurds in Syria "irrational" and said Turkey was fighting terrorism for national security.

Trump was widely criticized when he announced a USA military withdrawal from Syria that was supposed to happen within weeks.

While US national security adviser John Bolton said there is now no timetable, President Donald Trump reaffirmed his commitment to withdrawing US troops, though he said "we won't be finally pulled out until ISIS [Daesh] is gone".

Bolton also said all 2,000 U.S. forces may not be withdrawn, AFP reported.

But in that December 19 video, the president had said of the roughly 2,000 USA troops in Syria: "They're all coming back, and they're coming back now". "I never said we're doing it that quickly".

The abrupt decision surprised USA allies and angered his own national security advisers who disagree with the claim of IS's defeat.

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Netanyahu, during his joint press conference with Bolton, said he planned to take Bolton to visit the Golan before he leaves for Turkey on Monday if weather permits.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group that monitors the Syrian civil war, said in a report Sunday that the IS attack occurred the previous day in the village of Shaafa in eastern Deir el-Zour province amid fierce clashes between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, backed by the USA -led coalition, and IS militants.

"We don't want Isis to rise again and be a transnational terrorist threat, and we don't want our allies the Kurds to be slaughtered by Erdogan in Turkey".

"'There are objectives that we want to accomplish that condition the withdrawal", Bolton told reporters in Jerusalem. "That's what the president said, the ones that fought with us".

In this December 13, 2018 file photo, National Security Adviser John Bolton unveils the Trump Administration's Africa Strategy at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. He defended the legal basis for the deployment, adding it's justified by the president's Constitutional authority;"I'm a strong believer in Article II".

Netanyahu's office said he and Putin "discussed the situation in Syria and recent developments and agreed on continued coordination between the (Israeli and Russian) militaries".

Israeli public radio said that Sunday evening's meeting would also include Washington's concerns over Chinese commercial and technological activity in the Jewish state.

Bolton on Sunday also toured the ancient tunnels beneath the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City. Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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