USA pullout from Syria begins amid confusion over Pentagon timetable

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"[The coalition] has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria". He suggested that the protection of Kurdish allies in the country would be a redline for the withdrawal.

Turkey had rejected the US claim that the Syrian Kurds were represented by the YPG, which Ankara sees as a terrorist organization.

Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar reviews an honor guard as he arrives for a meeting with the commanders of military units on Syrian border in Sanliurfa, southeastern Turkey, Jan. 11, 2019.

Turkey sees the Kurdish YPG militia close to its border as a security threat.

National Security Advisor John Bolton appeared to contradict the White House Sunday when he said the USA withdrawal from Syria would not be immediate, but the Pentagon announced Thursday that without receiving any new direction, it's moving forward with the mission.

Comments by Bolton on the matter drew a quick rejection this past week from Erdogan, who said they were a "serious mistake" and that Turkey "cannot make any concessions in this regard".

U.S. officials, among them Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have made it clear they do not want Turkey "to slaughter" the Kurds, their partners against the Islamic State, when Washington retreats from Syria, a move seen as a betrayal by many Kurds who lost thousands of men and women during the war.

Both NBC and CBS point out that this appears to contradict messaging from both Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

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The Gulf emirate is his latest stop in a regional tour aimed at reassuring allies after a Trump's shock announcement in December that USA troops would be withdrawn from Syria. The two sides are trying to reach agreement about Kurdish fighters allied with the United States against Islamic State forces in Syria.

"We recognize the Turkish people's right and President Erdogan's to defend their country from terrorists", Pompeo said Saturday, according to NPR's Michele Kelemen, who is traveling with the secretary.

He added Pompeo also stressed the importance that the USA places on the protection of forces, namely PYD/YPG, the Syrian offshoot of PKK terror organization. -Turkish consultations as part of the "deliberate and coordinated" withdrawal of American forces from Syria.

When did the withdrawal start?

Now, Kurdish leaders from the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the SDF's political wing, want negotiations as soon as possible that could lead to a political settlement between Damascus and the Kurdish factions.

Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a 34-year insurgency in Turkey, and aims to crush its foothold in Syria.

"We had this conversation, many details still to be worked out but I am optimistic we can achieve a good outcome", Pompeo said of his call with Cavusoglu from Abu Dhabi, where he was on the fourth leg of a nine-nation Mideast trip.

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