Assad's forces must fill void left by US, Russia tells Turkey

On Sunday, President Donald Trump announced that he was in contact with Erdogan over the USA troop withdrawal, and voiced his confidence in Turkey's ability to "eradicate whatever is left of ISIS in Syria".

FILE - U.S. forces are seen at the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) headquarters after it was hit by Turkish airstrikes in Mount Karachok near Malikiya, Syria, April 25, 2017.

He did not say when the meeting would happen, but Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, announced that he will travel to Russian Federation in the coming days to discuss Syria, according to CNN Turk.

Ankara claims the YPG is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged attacks on Turkish soil since the 1980s as they sought autonomy. "We're going to continue to fight ISIS despite taking away their territory, of course that war with the terrorist group is not done because they do exist in places like Europe and the United States'".

Major players in and around Syria have started positioning their forces as discussions get under way on how to proceed once US forces vacate the country and their fight against the last remnants of the Islamic State terror group's self-proclaimed caliphate.

Cavusoglu told Turkish media during a briefing that Ankara has "the power to neutralize [ISIS] alone" amid fears that a USA pull-out will hurt the fight against the militant group.

Reports from the region indicate other forces are also on the move as they, too, prepare for the USA troop withdrawal. "Obviously, that should be the Syrian government, in accordance with global law", Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova said, reported the state-run Sputnik news agency.

"Military operations haven't started - there are no clashes or skirmishes", he said.

State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino
State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino

France is part of the worldwide anti-terrorism coalition led by the USA in Syria and Iraq.

Trump's shock move put allies on the backfoot, with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday saying "an ally must be reliable".

Iraq on Monday said it was considering sending troops across the border into Syria to defend the frontier from the threat of ISIS fighters. They also called for French support in assuring the region's peace and stability.

"President Erdogan of Turkish has very strongly informed me that he will eradicate whatever is left of IS in Syria.and he is the man who can do it plus, Turkey is right 'next door, '" Trump said.

In that capacity, they are facing off against the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which in turn have been bolstered, or at least somewhat protected, by the presence on ground of their American allies.

Reports by United States media indicate that Trump administration has ordered the U.S. military to start withdrawing up to 7,000 troops from Afghanistan in the coming months.

A committee of US military officials will visit Turkey this week to discuss the details of the pullout with their counterparts, said Ibrahim Kalin, Turkish presidential spokesman. Currently Turkey's military is reportedly mustering forces and tanks along deployment points at the Syrian border.

  • Jon Douglas