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US Syria withdrawal must be done with allies’ defence ‘assured’


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and US National Security Advisor John Bolton, speaks to the media after their meeting in Jerusalem, on January 6, 2019. (Photo by Oded Balilty / POOL / AFP)

US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said Sunday during a visit to Israel that the American withdrawal from Syria must be done with the defence of allies “assured”.

“We’re going to be discussing the president’s decision to withdraw, but to do so from northeast Syria in a way that makes sure that ISIS is defeated and is not able to revive itself and become a threat again,” John Bolton said when meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

“And to make sure that the defence of Israel and our other friends in the region is absolutely assured, and to take care of those who have fought with us against ISIS and other terrorist groups.”

Trump’s announcement on December 19 that the US would immediately withdraw its troops from Syria led to concerns among allies, and he has since spoken of “slowly” sending troops home “over a period of time”.

Israel is especially worried over whether it will allow its main enemy Iran to expand its presence in the neighbouring country.

Bolton told journalists travelling with him earlier in the day that conditions such as guarantees on the safety of Kurdish allies must be met before American troops are withdrawn from Syria, NBC News reported.

Bolton also said all 2,000 US forces may not be withdrawn, according to the report.

He said the withdrawal would take place in northeastern Syria, while some forces could remain to the south at the al-Tanf garrison as part of efforts to counter Iran’s presence.

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