This condition seemed to preclude a complete withdrawal in the foreseeable future.
He then took another swipe at the 2015 Iran nuclear deal - from which the US withdrew past year.
Hoping somehow to work around this difficulty, Bolton traveled to Turkey this week for talks.
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.
Instead, Erdogan went on television and chastised America's national security adviser.
President Salih, answering a reporter's question on whether he wants the United States to keep troops, said Iraq "will need the support of the US" and expressed his "gratitude to the USA for support over the years". We urge every country to take meaningful action to crush terrorism and denounce its ideological roots.
Was Bolton speaking for the administration when he said protection of our Kurdish allies is a precondition for withdrawal Syria?
The terms included total defeat of ISIS - still active in some Syrian regions - and ensuring that Kurdish fighters who fought alongside the Americans against the jihadists will be protected. Such disgraceful conduct might well have serious adverse consequences the next time we try to enlist a regional force to fight terrorists.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has called for joint control with Russian Federation and Iran of United States troops' withdrawal from Syria, saying Washington is facing "certain difficulties" with the planned exit.
Hundreds of Islamic State group foreign fighters captured in Syria are being held in Kurdish detention centers in the north, including many European citizens. This is hardly the first time America has left its Kurdish allies in the region in the lurch, and this move will further diminish US standing in the region. As a result, Republicans have long accused Obama of apologizing to the world for USA actions overseas, a point that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney emphasized during his 2012 attempt to unseat Obama.
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Erdogan is preparing for important local elections in two months.
The talks have helped significantly decrease the violence gripping Syria by creating for de-escalation zone there.
In addition to the agonizing foreign-policy considerations, the Trump administration no doubt looked at its own domestic authorization to remain in Syria.
The United States withdrew its troops from Iraq in 2011 eight years after an invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, but sent thousands back after Islamic State fighters swept into the north of the country in 2014.
The U.S. can reasonably regard Turkey as among the least malignant potential players in Syria.
Pompeo blamed the previous administration's approach to the Mideast for the ills that consume it now, particularly the rise of the Daesh in Iraq and Syria and Iran's increasing assertiveness, which he said was a direct result of sanctions relief, since rescinded by the Trump administration, granted to it under the 2015 nuclear deal.
Couple that with Trump's desire to sell arms to Turkey and one can understand the president's desire to accommodate Erdogan.
SDF leaders threatened in recent weeks to release these prisoners because, they said, they were understaffed and due to the threat of possible Turkish attacks in the north. The US position on the YPG became considerably more nuanced once it became clear that they were the only group that could lead urban assaults on ISIS, and our alliance brought howls of protest from Ankara all along.
We'll see how Trump weighs these competing values and considerations.