Trump, Erdogan vow to avoid Syria power vacuum

Trump, Erdogan vow to avoid Syria power vacuum

Turkish-backed Syrian fighters are preparing to deploy in eastern Syria alongside Turkish troops once American forces withdraw, a spokesman said Monday, adding that his forces have begun massing on the front line of a town held by Kurdish-led forces. Sean Robertson, said the execute order for withdrawal has been signed but provided no further details.

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 U.S. efforts there.

Saudi Arabia has agreed to "spend the necessary money" to rebuild Syria, US President Donald Trump said, only a few days after a contentious decision to withdraw US forces from the war-torn country.

Hours earlier, Trump had tweeted that he and Erdogan "discussed (IS), our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of United States troops from the area".

Trump said that the only reason the troops were there was to fight ISIS and that the victory over the terrorist group enabled him to bring the troops home within three months.

A withdrawal could have extraordinary geopolitical implications, and it runs counter to long-established USA policy for the region. His team often reassured the Kurdish fighters in Syria as well.

Erdogan linked his approach to a broader call for security and reconstruction in Syria so that the almost 4 million Syrian refugees in Turkey can return home.

Trump's latest McGurk outburst contrasts his initial comment claiming he does "not know" the career military official who used to be in charge of the administration's war on ISIS.

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Both US politicians and worldwide allies fear the withdrawal is premature and would further destabilize the already devastated region.

French President Emmanuel Macron late Sunday joined a chorus of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation calls for a rethink, saying he "very deeply regrets the [US] decision made on Syria" and added that "an ally must be reliable".

McGurk was a chief architect of Bush's troop surge in Iraq and had a senior role in negotiating the 2011 USA withdrawal from Iraq for Obama.

"In the meantime", he added, "within the framework of the phone call with Mr. Trump, we are and will work on our operation plans aimed at neutralizing the DAESH elements that are said to continue their existence in Syria".

On Thursday, U.S. media reported that the Trump administration considers to cut half of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan down to some 7,000 servicemen.

The military offensives were focused on areas to the west of the Euphrates and Turkey has not gone east of the river, partly to avoid direct confrontation with U.S. forces.

"And now Trump gets rid of SecDef Mattis nearly immediately. Just vindictive", Carl Bildt, a former Swedish prime minister and now co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, said on Twitter.

In a resignation letter last week, Mattis told Trump he was stepping down because he disagrees with the President's aggressive "America First" agenda and believes in treating USA allies with "respect". On the second day of a partial government shutdown, President Trump announced he is accelerating the departure of Defense Secretary James Mattis.