Residents near border crossings that are typically used by United States forces going in and out of Syria from Iraq said they had seen no obvious or large-scale movement of USA ground forces on Friday.
The comments from Hulusi Akar, on an unannounced visit to inspect troops stationed near the Syrian border directly opposite territory held by the US -backed Kurdish YPG, appeared to be aimed at both Washington and its Kurdish allies. That earned a stiff rebuke from President Tayyip Erdogan.
Speaking in Abu Dhabi later in the day, Pompeo said there were still many details to be worked out with Turkey but he was optimistic that a "good outcome" can be achieved that protects Turkey from legitimate terror threats, after speaking to the Turkish foreign minister.
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Kurdish-led groups who control swathes of northern Syria fear an attack from Turkey in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops from their region.
Pompeo's remarks came after U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said that as a precondition for the U.S.' withdrawal, the protection of YPG terrorists must be assured, which drew ire from Turkish politicians, including top government officials.
Pompeo's remarks follow tensions between the USA and Turkey over the fate of Washington's allies in the fight against ISIS.
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"We recognize the Turkish people's right to defend their country from terrorists, but we also know that those ... who are not terrorists and fighting alongside us for all this time deserve to be protected", Pompeo told reporters.
Fox News reported on Friday citing a USA defense official that the US-led coalition in Syria had started the process of withdrawing troops from the region. "Important preparations and planning have been made in connection with this".
Relations between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have been strained over US backing for the Kurdish YPG, which Turkey views as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) waging a decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil.
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Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian of France, which is part of the US-led coalition, welcomed what he believed was a slower withdrawal by the United States after pressure from its allies.