Latest top news on Syria:
- President Donald Trump said today he is still determined to pull U.S. troops from Syria but did not commit to a timeline and pushed back against reports of a rapid withdrawal. We are looking at 4 months, according to the New York Times.
- In Syria, government troops allegedly entered the city of Manbij. A Syrian Democratic Council (Syrian Democratic Forces' political arm) leader contacted by phone in northern Syria last Thursday said they had asked the regime to come and stop any Turkish attack in the city the Syrian Democratic Forces controlled since they routed out the Islamic State in 2016.
- The United Arab Emirates said it is reopening its embassy in Damascus after it had remained closed since 2011. More Arab countries will likely reopen missions in Syria. Arabic speaking media discussed the possibility of Emirati troops replacing American forces in eastern Syria.
- Last U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford said President Trump is right to pull troops from Syria and offered a road map focused on Russia: 1) support Russia in the negotiation of a deal between the Syrian Democratic Forces and Damascus that would allow Syrian troops to return to eastern Syria in a way that meets Turkish security concerns and denies space to the Islamic State; 2) intelligence sharing with Russia about the Islamic State in eastern Syria and possible U.S.'s strikes against the Islamic State there; 3) Make clear the U.S. will support Israeli moves to counter Iranian actions in Syria that threaten Israel's security.