Washington: US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu discussed the current situation in Syria in a telephone conversation amid repeated queries surrounding Washington’s decision to withdraw its troops from the war-ravaged country.
Pompeo and Cavusoglu “discussed ongoing US-Turkish engagement as part of the deliberate and coordinated withdrawal of US forces from Syria,” said a statement.
During the conversation, Pompeo reassured his Turkish counterpart that Washington is committed to addressing security concerns raised by Ankara along the Turkey-Syria border, Xinhua reported, citing the statement.
In a reference to the Kurds, who is a US ally in its campaign targetting the Islamic State (ISIS), the US Secretary of State stressed on the protection of forces that worked with Washington in its drive.
While Turkey considers Kurds a “terrorist group”, Trump, earlier this month, threatened to “devastate” Turkey’s economy if it attacked the Kurds in the region.
Recently, the US mulled the setting up of a 32 km safe zone in northeastern Syria, in a move welcomed by Turkey.
On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed that the proposed safe zone should be not made a breeding ground for terrorists, saying that its main focus would be wiping out extremist remnants from the Syrian-Turkish border.
On December 19 last year, US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US’ troops from Syria, claiming that the ISIS has been “fully defeated.”
Despite the announcement, a terrorist attack in the northern Syrian town of Manbij last week claimed the lives of four US military personnel and 15 civilians. The ISIS later claimed responsibility for the attack.