President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser, John Bolton, conditioned America’s troop withdrawal from Syria on Turkey’s acceptance of Kurdish forces in eastern Syria, adding that the US may also leave some forces in southeastern Syria even after pullout.
Speaking in Jerusalem Sunday, Bolton said the Trump administration had “objectives” which must be met in order for the US troop pullout to proceed.
“There are objectives that we want to accomplish that condition the withdrawal,” Bolton said, according to NBC.
“This is a cause and effect mission,” Bolton added, telling reporters that the pullout was dependent on certain conditions, chief among them guarantees from Turkey that Kurdish militias in Syria would be protected.
The National Security Adviser also said that the timing and pace of the American withdrawal would depend on the “fulfillment” of the administration’s conditions.
“Timetables or the timing of the withdrawal occurs as a result of the fulfillment of the conditions and the establishment of the circumstances that we want to see. And once that’s done, then you talk about a timetable.”
Bolton also said that despite talk from President Trump of a total pullout, the US may leave some forces in place at its base in Al-Tanf in southeastern Syria – even after the withdrawal. In such a scenario, US troops would be removed from northern Syria, with neighboring Turkey filling the vacuum, while the US enclave in Al-Tanf would be maintained.
Retaining the Al-Tanf enclave, Bolton said, would help the US prevent Iran from entrenching itself further in the war-torn country – a key concern of US allies including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States.