United States troops to leave Syria but YPG support to continue

Map showing territorial control in Syria at seven key moments in the war

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to reporters in Rio de Janeiro as Netanyahu continues his state visit to Brazil, said the premier made the request during a recent phone call with Trump, after the USA leader announced plans to remove troops from the war-torn Arab country.

Netanyahu met with Pompeo in Brasilia on Tuesday to discuss developments in the Middle East, including security cooperation between the two countries regarding Syria and Iran.

On Iran, Mr Trump praised his own strategy, saying that the sanctions have worked and turned it into a different country.

"We want to protect the Kurds but I don't want to be in Syria forever".

Contradicting Trump's claim, France's defence minister said on 20 December that IS had been weakened but not been wiped from the map in Syria and that the fight to defeat them definitively in their remaining pockets needed to carry on. Theoretically, such oil could be shipped across Turkey to Iran, but Ankara "would never allow it", he said.

Graham suggested to reporters on Sunday after having lunch with Trump that the President now better understands the stakes in Syria and, for now, has agreed to reevaluate his plans to immediately withdraw all United States troops from the country.

The Kurds have been the main element of the US-backed "Syrian Democratic Forces", a proxy army operating in northeastern Syria against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

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"When we kill ISIS, if we don't - oh then everyone says then they'll come to our country, well that's possibly true of a very small percentage but you know where else they're going?"

About 2,000 United States forces and other foreign troops are in Syria to assist local fighters battling IS, the jihadists who once controlled a "caliphate" covering much of Iraq and Syria.

The immediate reason for Mattis's resignation was Trump's announcement that he's ordering USA troops out of Syria.

Trump did not provide a timetable for the planned military exit from Syria, which he announced last month against the advice of top national security aides and without consulting lawmakers or US allies participating in anti-ISIS operations. "Now when I start getting out the Fake News Media, or some failed Generals who were unable to do the job before I arrived, like to complain about me & my tactics, which are working", Trump wrote on Twitter.

"I think we're in a pause situation", the South Carolina Republican said outside the White House after lunch with the president. "Just doing what I said I was going to do!" the president said. It has been freed by pro-US Kurds supported by the International Coalition.

It is unclear whether the proof of a Kurdish pullout will deter Turkey from launching another military operation in Syria, but the government in Damascus has repeatedly said it views Turkish troops as invaders and will fight them if necessary.

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