Turkey beefs up military presence at Syria border

Those threats, and a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week, appear to have triggered Trump's decision to withdraw all 2,000 USA forces based in Syria.

Clark isn't the only one criticizing Trump's decision to pull US troops from Syria. Sen.

Turkey was a rare ally that lauded Trump's decision on Syria, since it will now have a freer rein to target Kurdish fighters in the country's north who were armed and trained by the U.S. and played a major role in the war against Islamic State (IS) group.

Plans for the troop pullout will now be overseen by Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who Mr Trump announced on Sunday would replace Mr Mattis starting January 1.

The two leaders reportedly agree to coordinate to prevent an authority vacuum from developing as the withdrawal process begins. Turkey said the two countries are co-ordinating to ensure there is no "authority vacuum" once the USA troops leave.

"The Syrian Observatory monitored the raise of military preparations by the forces of Manbij Military Council, in anticipation for any military operations or offensives that are expected to be carried out the Turkish forces in the area which is located in the west of the Euphrates River", the observatory said.

Mattis is highly regarded by Republicans and Democrats alike and his departure added to concerns over what many see as Trump's unpredictable go-it-alone approach to global security.

The increased military activity in the border region recorded a few days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced its intention to postpone military operation against the Kurdish people's protection units. Trump said that the only reason the troops were there was to fight ISIS and that the victory over the terrorist group enabled him to bring the troops home within three months.

Allies around the world have been stunned by Mattis' departure, having seen the former general as a reliable supporter of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and other long-standing partnerships.

Mustafa Bali, the spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in a tweet Friday said heavy clashes erupted after IS fighters conducted a "huge" counterattack in Abu Khater village in eastern Syria's Hajin region.

Macron did not say what France's military will do next in Syria.

Paris has strongly criticized US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw US forces, arguing that the IS fight is not over.

The Turkish president also wished a happy new year to the United States president and American people.

Trump, since his 2016 presidential campaign had said "he wanted to get out of Syria", said Mulvaney, adding that the president "is entitled to have a secretary of defense who is committed to that same end".

Hammoud said there is "no alternative" except Turkish forces and allied Syrian fighters.

  • Jon Douglas