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US Briefs Turkey on Plans to Withdraw Troops From Syria by Summer - Reports

© AP Photo / APTVAmerican soldier standing on an armored vehicle
American soldier standing on an armored vehicle - Sputnik International
ANKARA (Sputnik) - Washington has informed Ankara about its intention to pull out US troops from Syria by the summer of this year, noting, however, that the schedule can be adjusted depending on the situation on the ground, Turkish media reported on Friday.

According to the Anadolu news agency, Washington made the announcement during the meeting of the Turkey-US joint working group aimed at coordinating the US troop withdrawal from Syria.

The meeting was focused on the situation in the northern Syrian city of Manbij and Syrian territories to the east of the Euphrates River, the media outlet specified.

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The Turkish side firmly opposed a possible transfer of former US bases to militants from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), listed as a terror group by Turkey, after the US withdrawal, saying that they either must be destroyed or handed over to the Turkish military, the news agency added.

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Ankara also reporedly informed the US side that if Washington withdrew troops without a mutual agreement with Turkey in line with its security concerns, it would reserve its right to self-defense.

Ankara claims that Kurdish militias operating in the north of Syria pose a threat to Turkey's security. In January 2018, Turkey launched a military operation in the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin against the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which is regarded by Turkey as an affiliate of the PKK.

READ MORE: ‘Dangerous Plot’: Iran's Khamenei Warns US Against Buffer Zone in Syria

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Last December, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Ankara was ready to launch another offensive against the Kurdish militia, in then Kurdish-controlled Manbij, however, the Turkish leader later said that the operation had been postponed following his phone conversation with Trump, who announced the withdrawal of US troops from Syria after the call.

Damascus, in turn, categorically opposes the presence of either the Turkish or US military on Syrian territories to the east of the Euphrates River.

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