MIDDLE EAST

US working closely with Turkey in Syria: US defense chief

Top defense officials from the U.S. and France discussed a host of issues Monday, including operations in Syria.

Acting American defense chief Patrick Shanahan met with his French counterpart, Florence Parly, in Washington, as the U.S. continues military operations in the war-ravaged country.

"We are working closely with the Turks, our strategic partner. More importantly, we are on plan for our drawdown in Syria," Shanahan said at a joint-news conference with Parly.

"We are in close coordination with our D-ISIS coalition partners on the real details of the plan," he added, using another term for the Daesh terrorist group.

U.S. President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to withdraw American forces from Syria late last year was met with significant pushback by close allies in Europe and among some of Trump's closest legislative supporters on Capitol Hill.

The U.S. withdrawal process should respect Syria's territorial integrity and political unity and Turkey's security concerns, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week, adding that Ankara will continue to work with Washington and other actors in Syria.

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