U.S. envoy on Syria tells allies troop withdrawal won’t be abrupt


FILE PHOTO: U.S. Soldiers surveil the area during a combined joint patrol in Manbij, Syria, November 1, 2018. Picture taken November 1, 2018. Courtesy Zoe Garbarino/U.S. Army/Handout via REUTERS

MUNICH (Reuters) – The United States will not make an abrupt and rapid withdrawal of its troops from Syria and will consult closely with its allies on the issue, its special envoy on Syria said on Sunday.

“We’ve been telling them (allies) continuously this is not going to be an abrupt, rapid withdrawal but a step-by-step withdrawal,” James Franklin Jeffrey told the Munich Security Conference, addressing concerns from allies over the U.S. decision to pullout 2,000 troops.

With talks of creating a safe zone on the Turkish-Syrian border, Jeffrey and Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar appeared to differ on what to do about Kurdish-led militias working with the U.S.-backed coalition fighting Islamic State militants.

“We have respect for the territorial integrity of Syria, but the main issue is the safety and security of the Turkish border and Turkish people,” Akar said. “The main issue is security to get rid of the terrorists regardless of whether the YPG (Kurds) or Daesh (Islamic State).”

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Madeline Chambers

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