Regional Players Prepare for Imminent US Pullout from Syria

Geraldine Edwards
December 28, 2018

Turkey is massing troops at its border with Syria in preparation for an attack on Manbij, a town in northern Aleppo province that is held by a US-backed coalition of mainly Kurdish militias.

FILE - U.S. forces are seen at the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) headquarters after it was hit by Turkish airstrikes in Mount Karachok near Malikiya, Syria, April 25, 2017.

Moscow "is still being guided by media reports that the full withdrawal of USA ground forces from northeastern Syria, the Al-Tanf area, may be carried out in two to three months", she said.

On Monday, Turkish-backed Syrian rebels reinforced the area around the town of Manbij, which is occupied by the Kurdish fighters, in preparation for the USA withdrawal.

While little has changed on the ground yet - USA forces are still deployed and Trump says the pullout will be slow - Kurdish officials are scrambling for a strategy to protect their region from Turkey before the United States leaves. Turkey considers the group a terrorist organization and has pledged to eliminate it.

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Trump is making his first presidential trip to a troubled region in the wake of his recent decision to pull United States forces from neighbouring Syria.

On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed his threats to target Kurdish fighters.

Meanwhile, on the eastern banks of the Euphrates River clashes continued between ISIS militants and SDF fighters.

"We understand the importance of this decision, which, in our assessment, is aimed at contributing to a comprehensive settlement of the situation", spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a news briefing.

"I very deeply regret the decision made on Syria", Macron said during a news conference, according to Reuters.

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"Especially if he was going to say he has no plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, because those troops can be staged to deal with ISIS", regular host Dana Perino agreed.

Turkey-backed rebel fighters in Syria are gearing up for a major deployment into northeastern Syria, with an eye on replacing the U.S. ground troops in the area. The French military has stationed fighter jets in Jordan and artillery along the Syrian border in Iraq as part of the coalition, as well as an undisclosed number of special forces on the ground.

The head of the MMC, Mohammed Abu Adel, told the Kurdish-run Kurdistan24 news website that Syrian troops have been in Arima since previous year but they have recently sent reinforcements as Russian soldiers arrived in the town.

Naturally, the USA also benefits from the deal, with a perpetually friendly port for its forces in the region, a reported six arms depots on Israeli soil, the outrageous profits going to USA companies from military contracts for weapons going to Israel.

Turkey conducted a second offensive with Syrian rebels against the YPG in its northwestern enclave of Afrin in January this year.

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She said that Turkey's real aim was to "use this opportunity (US withdrawal) to crack down on the YPG".

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