A U.S. delegation that includes national security adviser John Bolton arrived in Turkey Monday, where they aim to ensure protection for Kurdish forces in Syria before the troop withdrawal begins.
Bolton will meet with Turkish officials to discuss how to handle the U.S. withdrawal. Bolton said Sunday U.S. troops will remain in northeast Syria to ensure Kurdish forces are protected.
“We don’t think the Turks ought to undertake military action that’s not fully coordinated with and agreed to by the United States,” Bolton said.
Bolton is joined in the delegation by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and U.S. Special Envoy to Syria James Jeffrey.
Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States wants to ensure the “Turks don’t slaughter the Kurds” once U.S. troops leave.
In a tweet last week, Bolton said he looked forward to the trip.
“We will discuss our continued work confronting security challenges facing allies and partners in the region, including the next phase of the fight against [the Islamic State], as the U.S. begins to bring troops home from Syria,” he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hopes a victory against the Kurdish fighters, or YPG, would earn him support among nationalist voters. He’s long argued that using one terrorist group to fight another is illogical and said Turkey wants a clear road map for how the United States will withdrawal.
U.S. officials have remained vague on the timing for withdrawal.
“We want to protect the Kurds, but I don’t want to be in Syria forever. It’s sand. And it’s death,” Trump said last week.
Bolton’s arrival came after it was announced two U.S. citizens were captured in Syria, suspected of fighting for the Islamic State.