Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday sent military reinforcements to northern Syria near an area controlled by Kurdish forces a long-time enemy of Turkey ahead of an imminent US withdrawal. Turkey has said an offensive targeting the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia and the Islamic State (IS) group will be launched in the coming months. US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw 2,000 US troops from northern Syria has dismayed many of Washington's allies. A Turkish military convoy with howitzers and artillery batteries as well as different units of the armed forces were deployed to the border district of Elbeyli in Kilis province, state news agency Anadolu reported.
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Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters on Monday that a US military delegation would arrive this week to "discuss how to coordinate (the withdrawal) with their counterparts". Kalin also said a Turkish foreign ministry delegation would go to Washington for talks on the pull-out on January 8.
Earlier, Donald Trump had said, that he discussed the pull out of US troops from Syria in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "We discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, and the slow and highly coordinated pullout of US troops from the area," Trump said in a tweet on Sunday, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group. "After many years they are coming home." he wrote.
Trump's sudden decision sparked turmoil in his administration, prompting the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, as well as of Brett McGurk, the special envoy to the anti-IS coalition.
Brett McGurk, the US envoy to the global coalition fighting the Islamic State group, resigned in protest over President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, a US official said, joining Defence Secretary Jim Mattis in an administration exodus of experienced national security figures. McGurk had said it would be "reckless" to consider IS defeated and therefore would be unwise to bring American forces home. McGurk decided to speed up his original plan to leave his post in mid-February. Appointed to the post by President Barack Obama in 2015 and retained by Trump, McGurk said in his resignation letter that the militants were on the run, but not yet defeated, and that the premature pullout of American forces from Syria would create the conditions that gave rise to IS.