Turkey will ask US officials to hand over its military bases in Syria to Ankara or destroy them, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported. "Give them or destroy them", the publication's headline read, referring to what it said were 22 US military bases in the Syrian Arab Republic.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton arrived in Ankara for talks with his Turkish counterpart Ibrahim Kalin on Tuesday just days after Bolton set forth a new condition for the US withdrawal, insisting that Turkey must agree to protect the US-allied Kurdish militia.
"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, but also so that they meet the president's requirement that the Syrian opposition forces that have fought with us are not endangered", Bolton told reporters, as quoted by NBC News.
Most recently, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted Bolton's remarks, saying that he had made a "serious mistake", and that Ankara could never compromise on the issue of the YPG.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNBC that Turkish President Erdogan had promised to protect US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria:
"Erdogan made a commitment to President Trump… that the Turks would continue the counter ISIS* [Daesh] campaign after our departure, and that the Turks would ensure that the folks that we'd fought with — that assisted us in the counter ISIS [Daesh] campaign — would be protected".
In an op-ed for The New York Times, Erdogan wrote that his American counterpart Donald Trump had "made the right call" to withdraw US troops from Syria, but the withdrawal must be planned "carefully" and performed in cooperation with "the right partners to protect the interests of the United States, the international community and the Syrian people".
On 19 December, President Trump announced that the US would be leaving Syria over a period of several months, having declared that Daesh had been defeated.
*Daesh, also known as ISIS/IS/Islamic State, is a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.