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Turkish FM says Ankara welcomes US withdrawal from Syria

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Ankara welcomes the US decision to withdraw its troops from Syria, the Turkish foreign minister said on Friday.

“With regards to the withdrawal decision of the US … from Syria, we welcome the decision,” Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said at a joint news conference with his Maltese counterpart, Carmelo Abela, in Valletta.

Turkey fully supports the territorial integrity of Syria, he added.

Çavuşoğlu further asserted that Turkey has been fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) “for many years.”

“We believe that [ISIL] is defeated, but we still should be very vigilant because [ISIL] and other radical groups are still on the ground,” he said.

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday ordered all US forces to withdraw from Syria, saying ISIL’s defeat was his sole reason for being in the war-torn country.

US forces are expected to leave within 60 to 100 days.

“Now we should pay more attention to the political process [in Syria],” Çavuşoğlu said.

He added that convening a meeting on a Syrian constitutional committee would be a “crucial step” to reaching a political settlement in the country.

Iran, Russia and Turkey on Tuesday gave the UN a list of possible members of a committee to revise Syria’s constitution.

The committee will be formed in late 2018 or early 2019 and will give a fresh push to the peace process, he said.

The withdrawal comes on the eve of a possible Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria against Kurdish militia.

Ankara has carried out two similar military operations in northern Syria since 2016.

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