Published: Mon, January 07, 2019
World News | By Sandy Lane

Bolton warns Syria against use of chemical weapons

"We've tried twice through the use of military force to demonstrate to the Assad regime the use of chemical weapons is not acceptable", Bolton said while en route to Israel.

"The timetable flows from the policy decisions that we need to implement", he noted.

Mr Bolton said U.S. troops would remain at the critical area of al-Tanf, in southern Syria, to counter growing Iranian activity in the region.

USA forces will not pull out from Syria until Turkey guarantees the safety of US-backed Kurdish militias, National Security Adviser John Bolton has said, as cited by AP.

"We're pulling out of Syria", Trump said Sunday at the White House. US President Donald Trump's surprise announcement that it was pulling all of its 2,000 troops from the country sparked concern in Israel over whether Iran would be left with free rein to operate there and whether Russian Federation would respond to its calls to limit it.

Bolton's comments mark the first public confirmation that the drawdown has been slowed, as Trump faced widespread criticism from allies and the resignation of United States defense secretary Jim Mattis, for a policy that was to have been conducted within weeks. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned shortly afterward.

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"The recent decision by the president came as a shock and was a complete reversal of policy that was articulated to us", McGurk wrote in an email to colleagues obtained by The New York Times.

Bolton said the insisting that its Kurdish allies in Syria are protected from any planned Turkish offensive - a warning he was expected to deliver to Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, this week.

Bolton was expected to explain that some USA troops based in Syria to fight IS will shift to Iraq with the same mission and that some American forces may remain at a key military outpost in al-Tanf, in southern Syria, to counter growing Iranian activity in the region.

Ibrahim Kalin said Sunday that Ankara's military campaign in the neighboring Arab country, besides Daesh, has only targeted members of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). That group has been classified as a terrorist organization by both the USA and Turkey.

The US is also seeking a "satisfactory disposition" for roughly 800 IS prisoners held by the US-backed Syrian opposition, Mr Bolton said, adding talks were ongoing with European and regional partners about the issue. He explained that the Islamic State was defeated and the US completed its mission in Syria. But Pentagon officials say about 2 percent of the group's self-proclaimed caliphate remains in the country.

In September a senior U.S. official said there was evidence showing chemical weapons were being prepared by Syrian government forces in Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in the country. Of the 64 that were named, the whereabouts or status of 28 were publicly unknown, more than 20 were believed to have died overseas, 12 were apprehended and three had returned to the USA without facing charges.

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Dismantling ISIS has been an important achievement, and has come at a far lower cost compared to other USA military engagements in the region.

Nonetheless, the plans and assurances the national security adviser offered in Israel were confirmation that withdrawal plans are slowing until conditions on the ground match the President's stated assessment of the situation in Syria.

But the southern part of the town is still under ISIS control.

The president provided no firm timetable on Sunday for a pullback, simply telling reporters, "It's going quickly".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman has denounced as "irrational" United States claims that Turkey was attacking Kurds in Syria's northeastern parts.

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