Turkish FM welcomes US withdrawal decision from Syria

Mevlut Cavusoglu says Turkey fully supports territorial integrity of Syria

Turkish FM welcomes US withdrawal decision from Syria

By Diyar Guldogan


Ankara welcomes the U.S. decision to withdraw its troops from Syria, Turkish foreign minister said on Friday.

"With regards to the withdrawal decision of the U.S. ... from Syria, we welcome the decision," Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a joint news conference with his Maltese counterpart Carmelo Abela in the capital Valletta.

Turkey fully supports the territorial integrity of Syria, he added.

Cavusoglu further asserted that Turkey has been fighting Daesh "for many years".

"We believe that Daesh is defeated but still we should be very vigilant because Daesh and other radical groups are still on the ground," he said.

Cavusoglu also said he and other Turkish officials have already been in touch with U.S. officials "at different levels" on the issue.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday ordered all of the U.S. forces in Syria to withdraw from the country, saying Daesh's defeat was his sole reason for being in the civil war-torn country.

The U.S. began its air campaign in Syria in 2014, deploying troops to the country to assist in the anti-Daesh fight alongside local partners the year after.

Reports have suggested U.S. forces will leave within 60 to 100 days.

The withdrawal comes on the eve of a possible Turkish military operation in the northeastern Syria against the YPG/PKK terrorist group.

Since 2016, Ankara has carried out two similar military operations in the northern Syria.


'Turkey asks US not to support terror groups’

Cavusoglu said there should not be any vacuum that terror groups, including YPG/PKK, might fulfill in Syria.

"We actually ask our ally U.S. not to support, or engage with another terrorist organization in our fight against Daesh," he said.

The minister said Turkey has eliminated more than 4,000 Daesh terrorists in Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

"Now, we should pay more attention to political process [in Syria]," he said.

Cavusoglu added that convening a meeting on a Syrian constitutional committee would be a "crucial step" to reach a political settlement in the country.

Iran, Russia, and Turkey on Tuesday gave the UN a list of possible members of a committee to revise Syria's constitution.

The committee will be formed in late-2018 or early-2019 and will give a fresh push to the peace process, he said.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on protesters with unexpected ferocity.

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