The U.S. Secretary of State said that Washington will talk with Ankara to make sure it will not “slaughter” Kurds in Syria after the upcoming withdrawal of American troops from the war-torn country.
“The importance of ensuring that the Turks don’t slaughter the Kurds, the protection of religious minorities there in Syria. All of those things are still part of the American mission set,” Mike Pompeo said during an interview with Newsmax, a U.S. news and opinion site popular with conservatives, on January 3.
President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria led to a backlash from the media and many politicians. One of the main sources of criticism was the timing of the surprise decision, which came ahead of a planned Turkish military operation against Washington’s proxies in northeastern Syria, where the vast of majority of Syria’s Kurds live.
Pompeo’s defended Trump’s decision and stressed that the withdrawal will go ahead. However, he didn’t give a more precise timeline so as not to tip off U.S. adversaries. Recent reports claim that the currently timeline for the withdraw will be four months.
Despite acknowledging that the U.S. had “real concerns” with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Secretary of State stressed that Washington and Ankara have to work together on many issues.
“There are lots of places where we need to work with President Erdogan and the Turkish leadership to get good outcomes for the United States,” the National quoted Pompeo as saying.
It’s unclear yet how the U.S. will be able to ensure the safety of Syrian Kurds after the withdrawal of its forces. One of the ideas that are being mentioned now is the deployment of Arab forces from countries friendly to Damascus, such as the UAE and Egypt. However, this is yet to be confirmed.