A senior US official said the administration firmly rejects any consideration of withdrawing its forces from Syria on February 1st, according to CNN Turk.

US Under-Secretary, Victoria Numan, emphasized the persistent threat that the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) poses to regional stability, and the significance of US-Turkey collaboration despite differing strategic opinions.

Nuland stated: “We [US and Turkey] have been partners in the fight against terrorism for decades. In particular, we have been strong partners in the fight against ISIS, wherever it is. This needs to continue with Turkey, whether in Iraq or Syria.”

READ: IS cells in northeast Syria centralised weapon shipments

Following Nuland’s participation in US-Turkey Strategic Mechanisms meetings, she told CNN Turk that ISIS was “still active in too many places” for a withdrawal to be considered a viable option. The official stated: “Even though we do not always agree on how to conduct this fight, it is more important than ever to strengthen our cooperation.”

Numan emphasized the importance of re-strengthening US-Turkey cooperation in tackling terrorism and establishing a constructive dialogue on Syria policy, in pursuit of both nations’ security interests.

The nations’ relations have come to friction in recent years due to Washington’s support for the Kurdish People’s Protections Units, a faction within the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The US views the SDF as an indispensable ally in the fight against ISIS, while the Turkish authorities consider the group as an extension of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a designated international terrorist group.

Tensions between the allies, regarding the US’ military presence in Syria were exacerbated by a recent report by Foreign Policy, alleging a US intention to withdraw its forces from Syria.

READ: Turkey maintains position on the need for presence in Syria

The report stated: “While no definitive decision has been made to leave, four sources within the Defence and State Departments said the White House is no longer invested in sustaining a mission that it perceives as unnecessary. Active internal discussions are now underway to determine how and when a withdrawal may take place.”

American oil interests in Syria, however, make such a withdrawal unlikely.

Consecutive US administration have come under fire over “looted” Syrian oil, which is sold to Israel via northern Iraq. Without a US military presence in Syria, the possibility of the SDF making a deal to divert oil exports to the Russia and Iran-backed Assad regime undermines Americas overall regional strategy. US troops in Syria also serve as a lifeline to its bases in neighbouring countries.

After a drone strike killed three US servicemen in Jordan on January 28th, targeting Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria has become a strategic priority for the Biden administration.

CNN Turk


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