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Turkey says its new operation in Syria not depending on US troops withdrawal

According to US officials, the withdrawal of the US forces will take from 60 to 100 days

MOSCOW, January 10. /TASS/. Ankara’s plans to carry out a new military operation in Syria are not related to progress of the US troops’ pullout, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told NTV channel on Thursday.

"Whether they leave or not, we will still do everything necessary to ensure our national security and protection from terrorist organizations. Our operation does not depend on the US troops’ withdrawal," Cavusoglu said.

On December 19, US President Donald Trump announced Washington’s decision to begin the withdrawal of US forces from Syria. He noted that the United States had succeeded in its mission to defeat the Islamic State (IS, terror group, outlawed in Russia) and that it was time to bring American troops home. According to US officials, the withdrawal of the US forces will take from 60 to 100 days.

Washington began its military operation against the Islamic State in Iraq in June 2014 and in Syria - in September 2014.

While on a visit to Israel last week, Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton said it was important that the withdrawal of US troops from Syria did not endanger those who had fought against the Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) and other terror groups together with the US. He particularly meant the Syrian Democratic Forces, the bulk of which is made up of the Kurdish People's Protection Units.

Ankara gave a tough response to Bolton’s words, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described Washington’s demand that Turkey ensure the safety of the Kurds in Syria as a serious mistake. He said that Turkey might launch an operation against Kurdish units in northern Syria anytime following Bolton’s visit to Ankara.