US acknowledges threat to Turkey from terrorists, Pompeo says
U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw all American troops from Syria is "very clear", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Jan. 9, before adding that Washington "acknowledges that there is a threat to Turkey from terrorists."
He was speaking to reporters at the U.S. Consulate General in Erbil, Iraq.
Pompeo made the remarks in response to a question about whether a condition set by the U.S. for the pullout that requires Turkey to promise not to attack the PYD/YPG put the withdrawal at risk.
Turkey considers the PYD/YPG as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by both Ankara and Washington.
Pompeo confirmed the U.S. was talking to the PYD/YPG and Ankara on how to effectuate the pullout in a "way that protects our forces, makes sure that the Americans are safe.
"We will complete the mission of taking down the last elements of the caliphate before we depart," said Pompeo, referring to ISIL.
Last December, Trump announced plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria.
Ankara has long criticized the U.S. for working with the PYD/YPG to fight ISIL in Syria, saying that using one terror group to fight another makes no sense.
Pompeo said Washington "acknowledges that there is a threat to Turkey from terrorists and we will be very supportive."
"Any place we find extremists and terrorists, we’re prepared to support whatever country is ready to go after them," he said. "That includes Turkey and others."