Bolton says Syria withdrawal has conditions as Pompeo promises expulsion of Iranian troops

Three weeks after President Trump announced U.S. forces would be removed from Syria, National Security Advisor John Bolton has presented a detailed but conditional plan under which U.S. troops will leave the war-torn country.

The White House announced its intent to eliminate its 2,000-troop presence from Syria in December 2018.

The five-point plan presented to Turkey stipulates first the U.S. withdrawal from Syria will be deliberate and orderly, not in one fell swoop.  A second point Bolton presented is a re-affirmation of the U.S. commitment to crush the Islamic State (ISIS).

A third specifies Ankara must offer assurances it will respect Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.   The White House insists Turkey enter into and sign an agreement providing a security guarantee for the YPG, a group the U.S. considers a valued ally in the fight against ISIS.

Fourth, Bolton is demanding Iranian troops and irregular forces with Iran’s backing must leave Syria prior to a complete American withdrawal.

A final proviso of the proposal states a solution must be determined for ISIS terrorists held in captivity by YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces.  The Trump administration is adamant ISIS fighters not be released from imprisonment.

Although the conditions of the American exit were not yet entirely agreed upon by Ankara, U.S. troops were reported to have begun their exodus on Friday.

Bolton’s stern message arrived at the same time in which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a scathing speech in Cairo, excoriating the Obama administration for serial misjudgments in the region and said the U.S. would “expel every last Iranian boot,” from Syria.

Pompeo also warned Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, no U.S. aid was forthcoming until Iranian proxies were removed from the country.


[Middle East Eye] [Reuters] [BBC] [Photo courtesy RFE/RL]