06:29 GMT12 May 2021
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    US President Donald Trump did not discuss in advance his decision to withdraw US troops from Syria with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a senior US official told reporters on Wednesday.

    "President [Trump] and President Erdogan speak regularly," the official said on Wednesday. "The President had made his own decision. It was not something he discussed with President Erdogan. He has informed President Erdogan of his decision as a neighbor of Syria. Obviously, it's going to be an important issue for Turkey but this was not a topic of discussion, it was informational."

    Meanwhile, the United States will continue to vigorously utilize all tools available to affect the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Iranian supporters after the American troops are withdrawn from the Middle Eastern country, a senior administration official told reporters.

    "We will continue to robustly employ the broader tools that we have across the government to try to affect the behavior the Assad regime, of his Iranian enablers," the official said on Wednesday.

    READ MORE: Turkey, Russia to Play Stronger Roles In Syria After US Troops Pullout — SNC

    On Tuesday, the White House announced removal of all troops deployed in Syria, and the Pentagon said they have already started the process of returning US servicemen home. All State Department staff will evacuate from Syria within 24 hours, and the armed forces will be withdrawn in a period of 60 to 100 days, according to media reports.

    A senior administration official also told reporters that the US Defense Department is currently working on a timeline for the US forces' pullout from Syria.

    "Our understanding is that we will be doing this re-positioning of troops and assets in an orderly fashion," the official said on Wednesday. "The timeline is being designed, and I am going to refer you to the Pentagon on the logistics and the process for that, because they are working on it right now."

    A senior Trump administration official also told reporters that the next phase of the United States counterterrorism mission in Syria after the upcoming withdrawal of US troops from that country is to stay alert about the threat posed by the Daesh terror group.

    "In terms of the next phase of the mission it is continuing to remain vigilant about the ongoing threat of ISIS [Daesh]," the official said on Wednesday. "The US counterterrorism mission remains what it was… The counter-terrorism mission as I said goes on, and that’s what we are going to be focused on at the President’s direction."

    The official said the Daesh remains active throughout the region and emphasized that the United States went into Syria not to resolve the Syrian conflict, but to destroy the caliphate that the terror group established.

    Meanwhile, Moscow would like to clarify what the United States means by the "next phase" of its Syria campaign which has been announced after the withdrawal of the US troops from the Middle Eastern country has been declared, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said.

    READ MORE: Syria Militants Create Hotbeds of Terror in Africa — Russian Security Council

    "The United States has said that it had switched to a new phase, an unknown phase. There are no details but it allegedly includes the withdrawal of troops … Of course, we would like to understand what this new phase and the new stage of the Syria campaign entails. And may it not turn out the way it happened in Afghanistan. You know this better than me. [The United States said] no, we fully withdraw the troops, and now we send them back. And this has been happening for years," Zakharova told Channel One broadcaster.

    The diplomat noted that the US withdrawal from Syria was "a return to the norms of the international law."

    "I would like to remind you that they stayed there illegally, despite all the loud statements on the fight against the IS[Daesh]," Zakharova pointed out.

    The US-led coalition of more than 70 countries is conducting military operations against the Daesh terrorist group in Syria and Iraq. The coalition's operations in Iraq are conducted in cooperation with the Iraqi government, but those in Syria are not authorized by the Syrian government or the UN Security Council.

    Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia.


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