Turkey-US Joint Task force meeting kicks off in Ankara

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Two-day meeting of the Turkey-U.S. Joint Task Force, tasked to coordinate the American troops withdrawal from Syria, started in Ankara on Feb. 28.

This is the second meeting of its kind after the initial one held in Washington on Feb. 6.

“This task force only focuses on the withdrawal,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Feb. 6 elaborating on the mission of the task force.

The U.S. currently has more than 2,000 troops deployed in Syria.

On Feb. 21, the White House said 200 troops will remain in Syria as part of a peacekeeping effort. However, a report published by The Washington Post said 400 troops will remain, with 200 in northeast Syria and another 200 at the al-Tanf garrison in southern Syria.

On Feb. 13, Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said Washington will establish a multinational observer force to replace U.S. military in northeastern Syria.

Turkey wants an effective military presence in northeastern Syria after the US pullout.

The YPG dominates the SDF, an umbrella group acting as the ground armed forces of the anti-ISIL coalition. However, Turkey deems the YPG as an offshoot of the illegal PKK which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.

Turkey has vowed to carry out a counter-terrorist operation in Syria, east of the Euphrates, following two similar successful operations since 2016. But, it has delayed its possible military incursion after the US announced its decision to withdraw from war-torn country.

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