Turkey on Tuesday said that it remains ‘determined’ to clear US-allied Kurdish fighters from north-eastern Syria and will continue to coordinate with the United States for withdrawal of American forces. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters that "if Turkey says it will enter, it will," in comments carried by private DHA news agency. The minister also said Ankara and Washington have agreed to complete a roadmap on the northern Syrian town of Manbij until the US withdraws. Under the June deal, Kurdish forces would leave Manbij, in the western Euphrates valley, but delays have infuriated Turkey. "It is crucial that the US doesn't appear as not having kept its promises," Cavusoglu said.
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Trump announced last week that the US will withdraw all of its 2,000 forces in Syria, a move that will leave control of the oil-rich eastern third of Syria up for grabs. Trump said that he had discussed the pull out of US troops from Syria in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "We discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, and the slow and highly coordinated pullout of US troops from the area," Trump said in a tweet.
Erdogan, speaking to reporters in Ankara, said Turkey was taking into account Trump's announcement on Syria rather than French President Emmanuel Macron's decision. The future of the international coalition against IS, which includes Turkey, the US and France, remains unclear.
The Turkish president also announced that a delegation was heading to Moscow and that he would meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Turkey has been negotiating on behalf of the Syrian opposition with Russia and Iran, which support the Syrian government, as part of efforts to end the nearly 8-year civil war.
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.
Brett McGurk, the US envoy to the global coalition fighting the Islamic State group, resigned in protest over President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, a US official said, joining Defence Secretary Jim Mattis in an administration exodus of experienced national security figures.
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McGurk had said it would be "reckless" to consider IS defeated and therefore would be unwise to bring American forces home. McGurk decided to speed up his original plan to leave his post in mid-February. Appointed to the post by President Barack Obama in 2015 and retained by Trump, McGurk said in his resignation letter that the militants were on the run, but not yet defeated, and that the premature pullout of American forces from Syria would create the conditions that gave rise to IS.
(With PTI inputs)