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Spokesperson denies Erdoğan made commitment to protect Kurds in Syria

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s spokesperson İbrahim Kalın on Tuesday said Turkey did not make any commitment to protect Kurds in Syria after the withdrawal of US troops as stated by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a day earlier.

“Nobody should expect Turkey to make commitments to a terrorist organization,” Kalın said at a press briefing in reference to the Kurds who have partnered with the US in battling the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria. Kalin, however, underlined that there has been no pause in the fight against ISIL, saying the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Democratic Union Party (PYD) cannot be the representatives of the Kurds in Syria.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday said Turkish President Erdoğan assured President Donald Trump that the Syrian Kurds who assisted the US in the campaign to defeat ISIL “would be protected” after the withdrawal of American troops, CNBC reported.

“Erdoğan made a commitment to President Trump … that the Turks would continue … the counter [ISIL] campaign after our departure, and that the Turks would ensure that the folks that we’d fought with — that assisted us in the counter [ISIL] campaign — would be protected,” Pompeo told CNBC.

On Monday President Trump tweeted that US forces “will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight [ISIL] and doing all else that is prudent and necessary!”

“Iran hates [ISIL] more than we do. Russia hates [ISIL] more than we do. Turkey hates [ISIL], maybe not as much as we do, but these are the countries that hate [ISIL],” Trump told reporters at White House on Monday.

“We’re pulling out of Syria, but … we won’t be finally pulled out until [ISIL] is gone.”

White House National Security Advisor John Bolton is in the region to shore up those promises, said Pompeo.

“Commitments are important and then making sure we follow through on those commitments matters an awful lot. That’s true for lots of parties, including our NATO allies Turkey.”

“President Trump made the right call to withdraw from Syria. The United States withdrawal, however, must be planned carefully and performed in cooperation with the right partners to protect the interests of the United States, the international community and the Syrian people,” President Erdogan wrote in New York Times on Monday.

“Turkey, which has NATO’s second largest standing army, is the only country with the power and commitment to perform that task.”

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