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Bolton updates White House message about US in Syria: Troops will remain until objectives are met and Turkey makes guarantees
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Bolton updates White House message about US in Syria: Troops will remain until objectives are met and Turkey makes guarantees

In a tweet, President Trump said this was the plan all along

In Jerusalem, national security adviser John Bolton told reporters that U.S. troops will remain in Syria until the situation with ISIS is resolved and U.S. Kurdish allies are granted guarantees from Turkey. This represents a departure from previous Trump administration statements regarding an imminent departure from Syria.

What are the details?

"There are objectives that we want to accomplish that condition the withdrawal," Bolton said Sunday, according to Politico. "The timetable flows from the policy decisions that we need to implement."

On Monday, Bolton traveled to Turkey to negotiate regarding the government's treatment of the Kurdish people in Syria. One of the biggest questions regarding a rapid U.S. withdrawal from Syria concerns what happens to the United States' Kurdish allies after U.S. troops leave.

Turkey has had an ongoing conflict with the PKK, a Turkish militant group, within its own borders. Because of this, Turkey views all ethnic Kurds as terrorists and has been using the instability caused by the Syrian civil war to attack Kurdish positions outside of Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to "descend on them [the Kurds] with more comprehensive and effective [strength]."

Bolton said a promise from Turkey that it would not attack the Kurds in Syria after U.S. forces left would be a condition of the withdrawal. A Kurdish leader told The Associated Press that his people were unclear on what the U.S. planned to do, and that they had asked for clarification.

"We don't think the Turks ought to undertake military action that's not fully coordinated with and agreed to by the United States, at a minimum so they don't endanger our troops," Bolton told reporters.

In an interview with Bloomberg that was published Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. campaign in Syria "hasn't changed one lick." He added that a "component of that is being altered, the reduction of the forces in Syria is being changed, but the mission set hasn't changed a bit."

What has Trump said?

Although he initially announced the rapid pullout of U.S. troops from Syria, Trump later expanded the timeline from 30 days to four months. Bolton's comments imply that the process leading up to the withdrawal could last even longer.

On Sunday, Trump insisted that he had "never said we were doing it that quickly." He also said that the U.S. "won't be finally pulled out until ISIS is gone."

On Dec. 19, Trump declared that ISIS was defeated and that the U.S. would be pulling all its troops out from there. Republican lawmakers, including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), criticized the move, arguing that this would give ISIS time to regroup and would also endanger U.S. Kurdish allies.

In a separate tweet Monday, Trump bashed the New York Times for having "knowingly written a very inaccurate story on my intentions on Syria," claiming that he had always said that troops would be "leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS and do all else that is prudent and necessary!"

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