Syria withdrawal hinges on Kurdish allies’ safety, Bolton says

The planned withdrawal of USA troops from Syria will depend on a number of conditions including an agreement that Turkish forces won't attack Syrian Kurdish forces, national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday.

"The Golan Heights is tremendously important for our security", Netanyahu told US National Security Adviser John Bolton, during a joint statement after their meeting at the Prime Minister's Residence on Balfour Street.

"We don't think the Turks ought to undertake military action that's not fully coordinated with and agreed to by the United States, at a minimum so they don't endanger our troops", Bolton said in Jerusalem, ahead of a visit on Tuesday to Turkey.

He said the withdrawal would take place in northeastern Syria, while some forces could remain to the south at the al-Tanf garrison as part of efforts to counter Iran's presence.

When asked whether Bolton's comments would affect that timeline, a senior administration official said that "there is no specific timeline for the withdrawal of USA troops from Syria, and reports to the contrary are false".

But on December 19 Trump tweeted: "We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency".

The U.S. -backed force known as the Syrian Democratic Forces are believed to be holding hundreds of IS foreign fighters in detention centers in northern Syria, as well as their families in SDF-run camps in the north.

Angered by Trump's move, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas boycotted his administration, saying Washington is no longer qualified to serve as the sole mediator in the decades-long conflict with Israel, and that an worldwide mechanism should be devised to replace the USA in the so-called peace process. He is to deliver a warning to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week.

While Bolton's reassurances may have come as a relief to some, a top House Democrat stressed that the priorities the national security adviser outlined were "obvious" - and simply highlighted how risky Trump's initial withdrawal announcement was.

"We won." But on Sunday, Trump told reporters he "never said we're doing it that quickly".

The U.S. withdrawal from Syrian might not be as precipitous as it was originally described by President Trump.

He told reporters there was no timetable for a United States withdrawal from Syria but that there was not an unlimited commitment.

Netanyahu announced that he and Bolton would visit the region on Monday, weather permitting.

A delegation of top U.S. officials will visit Turkey on Tuesday to discuss joint plans after the USA withdraws from Syria.

Mr Bolton said U.S. troops would remain at the critical are of al-Tanf, in southern Syria, to counter growing Iranian activity in the region.

Bolton symbolically showed support for Israeli claims over Jerusalem on Sunday, by visiting the Western Wall and touring the adjacent underground tunnels, before having lunch with other Israeli and U.S. officials. Turkey hates ISIS maybe not as much as we do.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is following Bolton to the Mideast this coming week for an eight-country tour of Arab allies to shore up support for the administration's partners in the region.

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