Erdogan: Safe zone on Syria border must be under Turkey's control

A U.S. soldier waves from an armored vehicle on a road leading to to Manbij Syria in April 2018

A U.S. soldier waves from an armored vehicle on a road leading to to Manbij Syria in April 2018

In the interim, the withdrawal of the rest of the estimated 2,000 USA troops now in Syria will continue "in a deliberate manner", but there is no timetable for the pullout, he said. This force would be in addition to the 200 troops the U.S. is planning to maintain after the withdrawal at its base in at-Tanf, Syria, the official said.

Washington announced on Friday it would leave about 400 United States troops in Syria, split between two different areas, a senior administration official said. The abrupt decision sparked an outcry from allies and USA lawmakers. The US-led coalition fighting IS told the Pentagon watchdog that the SDF were "tenacious fighters with a degree of basic military training to function as infantrymen". "The worldwide community should know that the presence of such a force can avoid this region a real humanitarian catastrophe".

Donald Trump in December had ordered the withdrawal of American troops from Syria. There are about 2,000 USA troops in Syria, according to Pentagon officials.

Their meeting came a day after US President Donald Trump appeared to backtrack on his initial decision to withdraw all 2,000 US troops now stationed in Syria and instead maintain a force of "hundreds".

The presence of USA forces has been a key stabiliser as Washington has warned its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally that any assault on the SDF would endanger American troops. "The American decision could save thousands of innocent lives". It was not immediately clear whether the French and British contingents will remain now that the US presence will continue.

Adding to the French and British concerns, the Kurds who control swathes of northeastern Syria warned that, if attacked without Western support, they may no longer be able to guard the hundreds of European jihadists held in their jails - leading to USA calls for European countries to repatriate these prisoners.

Dunford said that he was confident that allies would step up in Syria.

The details of the continuing American presence in Syria have yet to be worked out, but there are indications that the USA intends to create a safe zone in the northeast, aimed at protecting the US -partnered and mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, who have borne the brunt of the fighting against the Islamic State.

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"Trump's decision is acknowledgement that there needs to be a small U.S".

To prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State, several hundred USA troops will stay in Syria indefinitely, split between the northeast and the existing US base at Al-Tanf near the Jordanian border, Pentagon officials said Friday afternoon.

"I believe that keeping a number of American troops and a larger number of coalition troops, with air protection, will play a role in securing stability and protecting the region, too", Abdulkarim Omar, co-chair of foreign relations of the Kurdish-led region, told the Reuters news agency.

"We don't want to see a resurgence of ISIS (Daesh)", the official said.

Turkey and the United States are engaged in negotiations regarding the future of military activities in Syria.

Washington claims it's military deployment, which is not mandated by the UN Security Council and is also opposed by the Syrian government, was necessary to fight the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL).

The commander of the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) reportedly called on Monday for about 1,000 to 1,500 worldwide forces to remain in Syria to help fight the IS. He added the United States "can leave a small force along with others ... whether it's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops or whoever it might be, so that it [the caliphate] doesn't start up again".

"As long as Erdogan continues his alliance with ultranationalist factions in Turkey and pursues a hard-line policy against Kurds at home and overseas, Washington might find it impossible to reconcile the incommensurable differences between its Syrian Kurdish and Turkish partners", he added.

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