US will not leave Syria until peace achieved

‘We do not want to simply pull out before the diplomats have won the peace,’ says Defense Secretary Jim Mattis
WASHINGTON: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Monday the U.S. will not withdraw its forces from Syria unless peace is fully achieved throughout the country.
“We do not want to simply pull out before the diplomats have won the peace, so you win the fight and then you win the peace,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.
Asked whether there has been any progress in assembling some sort of ground force for Syria that would provide stability after the U.S. withdraws, he noted that he would meet with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and said the U.S. is working with other countries in the region in this regard.
Describing the Syrian crisis as “the most complex security issue” in his four decades of government service, Mattis said they are battling Daesh while attempting to revive the Geneva peace talks to end the civil war.
In response to a question from an Anadolu Agency correspondent on whether the U.S. and Turkey have a common road map for the Syrian city of Manbij, he said the process is continuing.
“Those negotiations are ongoing as we work with our NATO ally over an issue that we have differences of opinion on,” Mattis said. “They are still going on. I’m kept informed of how they are going, but I am not ready to talk about that.”
After Turkey’s military operation to remove PYD/PKK terrorists in Afrin, Ankara said it might also extend its operation further east to Manbij unless the PYD/PKK terrorist group leaves the strategically located city.
However, U.S. military support for the terrorist PYD/PKK in Manbij has strained ties between Ankara and Washington and has led to fears of military clashes between the two NATO allies, since there are roughly 2,000 U.S. troops in the city.
The U.S. has supported the PYD/PKK under the name of SDF, which is considered by Ankara as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror organization that has waged a more than 30-year war against the Turkish state.
American support for the terror group has long vexed Ankara, as Washington views the SDF as a “reliable partner” in its fight against Daesh and continues to provide it with arms and equipment in the face of strong objections by Turkey.
The PKK has fought a 33-year war against Turkey that has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths.–AA

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