Trump declares start of USA troop pullout from Syria

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"Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds", Trump tweeted, while pushing for the creation of a 20-mile "safe zone".

"Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey".

Kurdish-led groups who control swathes of northern Syria fear an attack from Turkey in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops from their region.

Turkey on Saturday welcomed the latest statement made by Washington's top diplomat over Ankara's right to defend itself from "terrorists" after the US withdraws from Syria.

"Turkey expects the USA to honour our strategic partnership and doesn't want it to be shadowed by terrorist propaganda".

Erdoğan lashed out at Bolton's remarks by indicating that Turkey can not accept the USA condition of protecting YPG terrorists.

Colonel Sean Ryan, the coalition spokesman, said: "The SDF is making great progress and continues to liberate more territory once held by ISIS (Islamic State), but the fight continues".

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of militias led by the Kurdish YPG, have driven Islamic State from a swathe of northern and eastern Syria with the help of the US -led coalition over the last four years.

Trump said the removal of troops, which he announced via Twitter in December, is happening "while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions". Ankara is critical of the U.S. support for the Syrian Democratic Forces, arguing that terrorists make up the backbone of the Kurdish-dominated alliance. "Will attack [ISIS] again from existing nearby base if it reforms".

After media reports suggesting the departure of USA forces had begun, the Pentagon later said no troops had yet withdrawn and stressed that the battle against ISIS was continuing as US-backed forces try to capture the group's last remaining pockets of territory in Syria.

Ankara has long condemned Washington for its military relationship with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), its main ally in the war against ISIL in Syria for several years.

"We also know that those who aren't terrorists, those who were fighting alongside of us for all this time deserve to be protected as well", Pompeo said.

It considers the YPG and its political wing, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), to be "terrorist groups" with ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Turkey.

Bolton, who recently travelled to Israel to reassure the United States ally of the Trump-ordered withdrawal, said there was no stipulated time for the pullout of American forces in Syria, but insisted that it was not an "unlimited commitment".

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