No U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria without commitment from Turkey, Bolton says

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JERUSALEM — President Donald Trump will not withdraw American troops from northern Syria until the Turkish government guarantees it won’t then attack Syrian Kurdish forces that have been a critical allies for the U.S. in the fight against ISIS, national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday.

Bolton said a commitment from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that protects the Kurds after American forces exit is something Trump is demanding, and that it’s just one of several conditions that have to be met before U.S. troops leave.

“There are objectives that we want to accomplish that condition the withdrawal,” Bolton said.

He was speaking to reporters traveling with him to Israel and Turkey as he tries to clarify for allies Trump’s Syria withdrawal policy. He’s meeting with Israeli officials Sunday and Monday, and meets with Turkish officials, including Erdogan, on Tuesday.

Since Trump abruptly announced on Dec. 19 that all U.S. forces in Syria would exit immediately, administration officials have shifted the timing to say it would happen more slowly. Officials are now setting a series of conditions for withdrawal that must first be met, which Bolton described as “policy decisions that we need to implement.”

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