Keep this latest information and that from the previous two posts under your hat
"US diplomats and military officials failed to present any specific details to their Turkish counterparts about Washington's plans to withdraw its forces from northern Syria during National Security Adviser John Bolton's visit to Ankara on Tuesday, Middle East Eye has learned.
Turkish officials had been expecting Bolton and his entourage to bring with them draft plans for the withdrawal of about 2,000 soldiers deployed as part of the US-led campaign against Islamic State (IS) militants following US President Donald Trump's announcement last month of his intention to pull them out of Syria.
But the US delegation instead delivered what Turkish officials described as a "non-paper", an unofficial diplomatic note listing a country's position on certain matters which is open for discussion.
The five-point document proposed a negotiated solution addressing Turkish security concerns about the YPG, the Syrian Kurdish militia which Ankara accuses of links to the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) but which has played a leading role as a US ally in the ground campaign against IS.
It also reiterated that the US withdrawal would be "deliberate and orderly", but US officials did not present any operational information or discuss a timetable or post-pullout planning during Tuesday's two-hour meeting at the presidential palace, a Turkish official told MEE, speaking on condition of anonymity due to government protocol.
A senior Trump administration official briefed on objectives outlined at the meeting, speaking to MEE, confirmed that five conditions were delivered to Turkish officials.
Those attending the meeting with Bolton included General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking officer in the US military and the principal military adviser to Trump and senior officials, and James Jeffrey, the US special envoy to the anti-IS coalition.
Turkish officials attending the talks were led by Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesperson for the Turkish presidency.
Their main message, the Turkish official said, was to stress their concerns for the safety of YPG fighters following the US withdrawal, the Turkish official said.
Firstly, the US reiterated that the withdrawal of its anti-IS forces in northeastern Syria would happen in a deliberate, orderly and strong manner. The United States opposes any mistreatment of opposition forces who fought with the US
Secondly, the US, in the non-paper, committed itself to defeating the remnants of IS and continuing to damage IS targets throughout the withdrawal period.
While IS fighters have been ousted from the major towns and cities they once held, fighting between US-backed forces and IS militants has continued in the Middle Euphrates River Valley with the US continuing to launch regular air strikes in support of allied forces.
"As the president has stated, the US will maintain whatever capability is necessary for operations needed to prevent IS's resurgence," the administration official said.
Thirdly, the US declared that it wants a negotiated solution to Turkish security concerns with regard to the YPG.
The official said: "The US will cooperate with Turkey and other coalition members on continuing [anti-IS] operations and de-conflicting the airspace over northeast Syria. The United States opposes any mistreatment of opposition forces who fought with the US against IS."
Withdrawal of Iran-backed forces
Fourthly, the official also made clear that the US would pursue the withdrawal of Iranian-backed forces from Syria and a political solution in Syria.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has drawn heavily on Iranian military support, including units of the Revolutionary Guards Corps and Iran-backed Hezbollah militia fighters, during the country's eight-year civil war.
“The US is not withdrawing from the base at al-Tanf at this time,” the official said, referring to the only US military site in southern Syria that currently provides a refuge for some Free Syrian Army opposition forces and refugees.
The base, which is close to the Iraqi and Jordanian borders, is considered as a significant leverage against pro-Assad and Iranian forces in the area.
Finally, the US made clear that the release of captured IS militants - described as "foreign terrorists" by the US official - held by the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces is "unacceptable". An appropriate disposition of those prisoners is a top priority, the official said.
A source with knowledge of the talks said Turkish officials, in the meeting in Ankara, agreed not to conduct military operations against YPG targets while US forces remained in Syria, but repeated Ankara’s position that the YPG is a terrorist organisation which Ankara had every right to expel from its borders.
The source also said Bolton had inquired about the state of negotiations between Turkey and Russia over the post-US withdrawal. In response, Turkish officials declined to reveal the particulars of their diplomatic conversations.
Turkish officials expect that the withdrawal will take place in 120 days, and during this time, according to the source, US officials need to show some goodwill to satisfy Turkish concerns.
This is why Turkish officials urged their counterparts to uphold the already agreed Manbij roadmap and quickly remove YPG elements from Manbij and its military council accordingly. Otherwise, they said, Syrian government or allied Russian forces could take the control of the town.
Russian military police have already started to patrol the area near Manbij town, Russian state media reported on Wednesday.
Both Turkish and American statements about the discussion between the military leaders specifically focused on the need to quickly implement the remaining components of the Manbij roadmap.
Murat Yesiltas, the director of security studies at the Ankara-based SETA thinktank, said Manbij could be the first area where progress towards a wider resolution could be made.
“There is an understanding between Turkey and Russia about Manbij as well,” he said.
There are other signs in the Turkish media suggesting that an agreement on Manbij is likely.