U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that the United States military pullback from the Syrian border city of Kobani should take “another week or so” to complete, as the American forces are re positioning themselves elsewhere.
Secretary Esper further noted that once the partial U.S. withdrawal was complete, the U.S. military would still have roughly 600 troops in Syria, down from about 1,000 before President Donald Trump ordered a withdrawal last month.
Furthermore, the American Defense Secretary revealed that the United States is “Still partnering with the SDF (Syrian Defense Forces)” – which Turkey views as a terrorist group. He clarified to reporters that “We’re still providing assistance to them (SDF).”
The comments by Secretary Mark Esper were made in tandem with a meeting at the White House between U.S. president Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. During their meeting, the two leaders discussed – among other security related issues – the advanced F-35 fighter-jet program, after Washington removed Ankara from the program over its purchase of Russia’s most advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system. In response to the reporter’s question “Reconcile between the purchase of the S400 verses your desire to sell F35?” President Trump said “Well, that’s what we’re here for. We’re talking about it with our great senators.” When then posed with the question “What are the alternatives?” the U.S. leader said “I think we have a lot of alternatives. We’ll work something out. I project that we will work something out with Turkey. I think it’ll work out fine. OK?”