Trump adviser says Turkey must agree to protect Kurds after US withdrawal

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US National Security Advisor John Bolton speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem, on August 22, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / ABIR SULTAN

White House national security adviser John Bolton added a new condition on Sunday to the US withdrawal from Syria, saying Turkey must agree to protect the United States’ Kurdish allies, Reuters reported.

President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to announce a US pullout from Syria left open many questions, chiefly whether Kurdish fighters operating in northern Syria would now be targeted by their long-time enemy Turkey.

Bolton, on a four-day trip to Israel and Turkey, said he would stress in talks with Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, that the Kurds must be safeguarded.

“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, but also so that they meet the president’s requirement that the Syrian opposition forces that have fought with us are not endangered,” Bolton told reporters ahead of talks with Israeli officials.

Bolton, who will travel to Turkey on Monday, said the United States will talk to Turkey to find out what its objectives and capabilities were.

But Bolton said Trump’s position is Turkey may not kill the Kurds and that the US withdrawal would not take place without an agreement on that.

Meanwhile President Erdoğan’s spokesman said on Sunday it was irrational to claim Turkey is targeting the Kurds, saying Ankara’s targets were militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Kurdish groups the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), according to Reuters.

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