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Iran war planes ‘bomb targets’ as Mike Pompeo makes Middle East speech

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

The trip comes amid confusion over conflicting statements by President Donald Trump and senior USA officials about a planned US troop withdrawal from Syria.

The arrests come amid concerns about whether neighboring Turkey - which considers America's Kurdish partners terrorists - will be attacked in light of President Donald Trump's call last month to rapidly withdraw US forces from the country.

Turkey and the United States are now at loggerheads over the future of Syrian Kurdish forces, considered by Ankara as "terrorists", after the troop pullout.

It was Erdoğan who gave the first impressions over the talks between Bolton and Kalın in his weekly address to his Justice and Development Party (AKP) parliamentary group. Erdogan refused to meet Bolton and called the national security advisor's comments a "serious mistake".

Another sign of his outsider status - he was caught by surprise when Trump announced he was withdrawing US troops from Syria and - after a critical global response - pushed the president to delay the process for as long as possible.

Earlier, NBC news reported, citing a senior USA official, that some U.S. troops could stay behind at At Tanf, a key base in southern Syria, after American forces leave the country.

Unquestionably, as Turkey intends to coordinate closely with Washington vis-a-vis Syria amid the planned U.S. military withdrawal, confusing messages from the White House will continue to unsettle Ankara.

Trump's December 19th announcement that US forces would be leaving Syria left a trail of disarray in its wake.

The vacancies are especially problematic as the Trump administration continues to send contradictory messages about its policies toward friends and foes in the region.

Each audience has sharply different priorities, with US President Donald Trump appearing fully prepared to pander to each of them, leaving virtually everyone, quite dangerously, utterly bewildered - if at times sure to be privately delighted. He added that an immediate withdrawal of USA forces from Syria would serve the interests of the Arab country.

Pompeo struck a similar tone on Thursday, declaring that the U.S. will still carry out airstrikes in Syria as the need arises, and will not fully abandon the region until the "complete dismantling of the ISIS threat" is achieved.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the press in the newly inaugurated Cathedral of the Nativity Christ, east of Cairo, on Thursday.

Earlier Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed that Washington and its allies would work diplomatically to expel all Iranian troops from Syria. Turkey has always been signaling of a third operation in YPG-held territory in Syria which the country sees a national threat to itself.

"But so much has changed during the past seven years, and today we are talking about an extensive Russian military presence in Syria, an obvious Iranian presence, and a possible Turkish military presence as well".

But Pompeo's effort at damage control was in part overshadowed by Bolton's rocky visit to Turkey, where he angered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by walking back Trump's off-the-cuff Syria policy. Erdogan was particularly irate over Bolton's comment that U.S. forces would not be leaving without some assurances of protection for the Kurds, whom Erdogan has branded as terrorists and threatened to snuff out.

While Obama administration made the landmark nuclear deal with Iran a priority, the Trump administration is taking the opposite approach, Al Jazeera's Bishara said. The men also discussed efforts to "ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS in the region".

On Monday, Erdogan published an opinion article in the New York Times saying the Turkish government has "no argument with the Syrian Kurds."He called for a "stabilization force" in Syria that would be created by Turkey".