FM Çavuşoğlu holds phone call with USA counterpart Pompeo over Syria

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media reports suggesting the departure of United States forces had begun, the Pentagon later said no troops had yet withdrawn and stressed that the battle against ISIS was continuing as US-backed forces try to capture the group's last remaining pockets of territory in Syria.

The comments from Hulusi Akar, on an unannounced visit to inspect troops stationed near the Syrian border directly opposite territory held by the USA -backed Kurdish YPG, appeared to be aimed at both Washington and its Kurdish allies.

Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, this week tried to make the case for guarantees that Turkey would not harm the YPG after the withdrawal. That drew a rebuke from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who called his comments "a serious mistake".

Speaking in Abu Dhabi as part of a regional tour, Pompeo said the withdrawal of US troops from Syria was a "tactical change" but the mission to destroy Islamic State and counter Iran's influence remained the same.

Pompeo arrived in Abu Dhabi on Friday as part of his regional tour aimed at reassuring Washington's Middle Eastern allies of its continued commitment to the complete dismantlement of Daesh a href="https://sputniknews.com/us/201812191070826973-us-military-syria/" *withdraw some 2,000 U.S. troops now deployed in the Middle Eastern country.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday he was optimistic that a "good outcome" could be reached between Turkey and Syrian Kurdish groups, after speaking to the Turkish foreign minister.

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"We hope we can turn the corner here", Pompeo added.

But, he added, "we also know that those who are fighting alongside us for all this time deserve to be protected as well".

The United States military on Friday began moving non-essential gear out of Syria, but will not withdraw troops immediately, AFP reported, citing American defense officials. "Important preparations and planning have been made in connection with this".

"In this regard, establishing dialogue between the Kurds and Damascus takes on particular significance".

Relations between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have been strained over US backing for the Kurdish YPG, which Turkey views as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) waging a decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil. Syria's deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday he was optimistic about renewed dialogue with the Kurds.

Ankara has repeatedly expressed frustration over a deal with the United States for the withdrawal of the YPG from the city of Manbij, just west of the Euphrates river.

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