Turkey-backed Syrian fighters prepare to replace withdrawing USA forces

Turkey says almost 300,000 Syrian refugees have gone home

Turkey reinforcing Syrian border after USA withdrawal - Entertainment News

Trump received criticism from Republican and Democratic lawmakers, former government leaders, and worldwide allies for what they have perceived as a premature withdrawal of USA forces from Syria, where troops have been since 2015 assisting a Syrian Arab and Kurdish alliance fighting against IS.

In a slew of tweets sent at the White House, Trump said that "Saudi Arabia has now agreed to spend the necessary money needed to help rebuild Syria, instead of the United States".

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during an opening ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, Dec. 23, 2018.

The Kurds have always been seen as a counter to the rise of Sunni radicals, as well as a buffer against spreading Iranian hegemony.

"Yesterday units from the Syrian National Army headed towards the Manbij front and took preliminary positions (in preparation) for the battle", said Major Youssef Hamoud, the spokesman for the National Army, the main Turkey-backed rebel force in the area. The Kurdish autonomous areas already maintain warm relations with the Jewish state.

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Trump initially praised Mattis in a tweet announcing his departure, saying that he was retiring "with distinction" and that "during Jim's tenure, tremendous progress has been made".

He added: "Why have we presence in Syria now?"

But Trump, who was irked by the attention given to Mattis' letter, said Deputy Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan would take over on an acting basis from 1 January.

Former NATO commander Gen. Wesley Clark harshly criticized President Donald Trump for his decision to remove American troops from Syria, telling CNN's "New Day" on Monday that "there doesn't seem to be any strategic rationale for the decision".

Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by telephone on Sunday and "agreed to ensure coordination between their countries" military, diplomatic and other officials to avoid a power vacuum which could result following any abuse of the withdrawal and transition phase in Syria, ' the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

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"The execute order for Syria has been signed", a USA military spokesperson told AFP when asked about the withdrawal order, without providing further details. "Our troops are coming home!" tweeted Trump. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

Trump's sudden decision sparked turmoil within his administration, prompting the resignation of Brett McGurk, the special envoy to the anti-Daesh coalition, as well as Mattis.

After near-universal backlash to his announcement, Trump said on Saturday that the withdrawal would be "slow & highly coordinated".

US officials said they didn't know if Shanahan would be Trump's nominee to replace Mattis.

Bates told the Journal Defense Secretary James Mattis' resignation was a bigger deal to him, as Mattis, a retired Marine general, is held in high esteem by US armed forces.

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He referred to Turkey's cross-border offensive launched in August 2016 against the IS in northern Syria and said Ankara would take all measures to avoid a power vacuum after the U.S. withdrawal.

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