Kurdish troops begin withdrawal from Syria’s Manbij

Senator Lindsey Graham listens during a press conference at the US Capitol in Washington DC on US President Donald Trump's decision to remove US military forces from

The YPG seized Manbij from the Islamic State group in 2016 and USA forces have continued to support the Kurdish fighters in their battle against the jihadists. Pompeo allayed Netanyahu's concerns about Trump's pullout from Syria, which is a source of concern for Israel, which is anxious about growing Iranian influence in Syria. The counter ISIS campaign continues, our efforts to counter Iranian aggression continues, and our commitment to Middle East stability and protection of Israel. We have other bases in the general area.

Trump did not provide a timetable for the planned military exit from Syria, which he unexpectedly announced last month against the advice of top national security aides and without consulting politicians or USA allies participating in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

But after saying troops would come home right away, and that the Islamic State group was defeated, he didn't give any specific timetable.

Critics of Trump's decision for the withdrawal not only warn of a resurgence of ISIL, but worry that the withdrawal is a betrayal of US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria and leaves them vulnerable to an attack from Turkish forces. "We will continue the same way as before this decision was made", Pompeo said.

On December 19, following a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump made a surprise announcement that he would be quickly withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria and Turkey would take over responsibility there.

On Monday, the Republican president said the United States was "slowly sending" troops home - a markedly different tone than he used in his initial announcement of a withdrawal on December 19.

The Syrian regime said Wednesday hundreds of Kurdish fighters had withdrawn from Manbij near the border with Turkey, days after the Kurds appealed to Damascus for support against a threatened Turkish offensive.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump's withdrawal plans and if there were any official changes to them.

Kuwait said on Monday it expected more Arab countries to reopen embassies in Damascus in "coming days" but added that the move would need a green light from the Arab League, which suspended Syria's membership seven years ago.

Trump did not provide a timetable for the planned military exit from Syria, which he announced last month against the advice of top national security aides and without consulting lawmakers or US allies participating in anti-ISIS operations.

"I think we're in a pause situation", the South Carolina Republican said outside the White House after lunch with the president.

He said: "I shouldn't be popular in Europe".

Saying that the Taliban and Islamic State terrorists are "fighting each other" in parts of Afghanistan, he said he told the generals, "Why don't you let them fight?"

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