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The Debate

Erdogan's rebuke: Turkey rejects US call to safeguard Syrian Kurdish forces

Is the United States staying or going? First, Donald Trump abruptly decides to pull out of northeast Syria - prompting the resignation of his defence secretary. Next, he dispatches his national security advisor to the region. John Bolton, in order to reassure Israel and the Syrian Kurds backed by Washington, starts to roll back the timeline for a pullout, as he seeks assurances from Ankara to safeguard the Kurdish-led Syrian forces the US has been training in its fight against the IS group.

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Now though, the trip has ended with a rebuke. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is furious over the continued US support for those Kurdish forces. In the end, there was no press conference by Bolton and no meeting with Erdogan. The Turkish leader is vowing to press on with an offensive in northeast Syria to take on militias allied with the Turkish Kurdish PKK insurgency.

Fearing they'll be left on their own to face foes in Turkey and Iran, the Syrian Kurds are putting out feelers in Damascus and Moscow. As Trump's secretary of state kicks off his own Mideast tour, what's next out of Washington, and what's next for Syria and the wider region?

Produced by Charles WENTE, Laure FOURQUET and James VASINA

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