Trump says discussed 'highly coordinated' Syria pullout with Erdogan
Washington (AFP) –
Donald Trump said Sunday he had discussed Syria and "the slow & highly coordinated pullout of U.S. troops from the area" in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The US president tweeted that the two leaders had "a long and productive call," and also discussed the Islamic State group (IS) and "heavily expanded trade."
Trump shocked US allies on Friday when he announced plans to pull the 2,000 US troops out of Syria, where they have been helping coordinate a multinational fight against IS. But the move was lauded by Turkey.
The decision followed an earlier Trump phone call with Erdogan, who has been pressing for a US withdrawal.
An American pullout would allow Turkish troops to move against the hardened Kurdish fighters in Syria deemed terrorists by the Ankara regime -- but who have strongly supported US efforts there.
A US withdrawal, said Mutlu Civiroglu, a Kurdish affairs analyst, "will open way for Turkey to start its operations against the Kurds, and a bloody war will begin."
Trump's sudden decision sparked turmoil in his administration, prompting the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, as well as of Brett McGurk, the special envoy to the anti-IS coalition.
Several US politicians of both parties rejected Trump's claim that the jihadist forces of IS had been defeated, and many in the US military expressed alarm and dismay at the thought of suddenly abandoning their Kurdish allies.
© 2018 AFP