The Pentagon announced Sunday the signing of the withdrawal order of US troops from Syria shortly after an interview between Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan having focused on the implementation of this decision.
The US president wants this departure of some 2,000 soldiers that his country has dispatched to Syrian territory is “slow and extremely coordinated” with Turkey to avoid a vacuum in areas controlled by Kurdish rebels that could benefit the regime. Bashar al-Assad.
“The decree for Syria has been signed,” said a spokesman for the Pentagon without providing further details.
And a few days after Donald Trump ordered Wednesday the withdrawal of US forces fighting in northeastern Syria against the jihadists alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of Arab-Kurdish militias.
The president, a long-time opponent of US involvement in a costly conflict, said US troops were no longer useful because the Islamic State (IS) group was “largely defeated.”
But this departure will leave the Kurdish militia of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) without military support at the very moment when Turkey threatens to attack it, considering Kurdish fighters as terrorists.
On Twitter, Trump said he had “a long and productive phone conversation” with Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He said he spoke with him about “IS, our mutual engagement in Syria and the slow and highly coordinated withdrawal of US troops from the region” as well as “dramatically increased trade relations”.
“Turkey’s President @RT_Erdogan gave me assurances in very strong terms” that he was going to “eradicate what’s left of ISIS in Syria,” Mr Trump again tweeted. “Our troops are coming home!”, He added, saying his counterpart was able to keep this commitment.
“The two leaders have agreed to ensure coordination between the military, diplomats and other officials of their countries to avoid a power vacuum that could result from exploitation of the withdrawal (American, Ed) and the Syria, “the Turkish presidency said in a statement. Erdogan also said his country was “ready to provide support to our NATO ally as part of this” withdrawal decision.
– “shoulder against shoulder” –
According to the Washington Post quoting White House sources, Donald Trump’s advisers persuaded him to withdraw the US troops more slowly than he wanted to, so that their security would not be threatened.
Subjected to strong tensions, notably because of Washington’s support for the Kurds, the relations between Turkey and the United States – two allies in NATO have clearly relaxed since the release in October of a detained American pastor for a year and a half.
The head of the “national army”, a coalition of factions opposed to the Syrian regime and allied with Turkey in northern Syria, had previously called on the Americans to ensure that the departure of their soldiers did not lead to a return of regime of Bashar al-Assad in areas still in the hands of the Kurds.
According to Nasr al-Hariri, this vacuum could in particular push the Kurds to approach the Syrian power to guard against a Turkish offensive and try to preserve a relative autonomy.
Turkey is afraid that an embryonic Kurdish state will be established at its doors that would reinforce the separatist ambitions of the Kurdish minority on its own territory.
Erdogan promised Saturday to eliminate jihadists and Kurdish militias from northeastern Syria and, according to a Syrian NGO, Ankara sent military reinforcements to the region.
The SDF, for its part, threatened to suspend the fight against the IS to defend their territory and release the hundreds of foreign jihadists taken prisoner.
If his “caliphate” self-proclaimed in 2014 broke up in the face of multiple offensives, this jihadist organization retains some reduced and remains capable of committing deadly attacks.