Israeli strikes against Iranian targets in Syria
The White House has sent national security adviser John Bolton on a mission to allay Israel’s concerns about US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, with one official saying Washington will be “very supportive” of Israeli strikes against Iranian targets in the country.
The pullout announced before Christmas was initially expected to be completed within weeks, but the timetable has slowed as the president acceded to requests from aides, allies and members of Congress for a more orderly drawdown.
Bolton planned to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials on Sunday before traveling to Turkey. Israeli officials have expressed alarm that a swift withdrawal of the roughly 2,000 troops could enable Iran to expand its influence and presence in Syria, wracked by a years-long civil war and Islamic State militancy.
Trump’s move has raised fears about clearing the way for a Turkish assault on Kurdish fighters in Syria who have fought alongside American troops against IS extremists. Turkey considers the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, a terrorist group linked to an insurgency within its own borders.
A Trump administration official told reporters traveling with Bolton that Bolton intended to discuss the pace of the drawdown, as well as American troop levels in the region. Bolton was expected to explain that some US troops based in Syria to fight IS will shift to Iraq with the same mission and that some American forces may remain at a key military outpost in al-Tanf, in southern Syria, to counter growing Iranian activity in the region.
Read more: Times of Israel
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