U.S. Military Moving Equipment Out of Syria as Pullout Begins

U.S. Military Moving Equipment Out of Syria as Pullout Begins

U.S. Military Moving Equipment Out of Syria as Pullout Begins

The U.S. -led military coalition in Syria started the process of withdrawing troops from the embattled region, a U.S. military official said Friday.

The U.S. -backed Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units form the backbone of the opposition Syrian Democratic Forces and have been fighting alongside U.S. troops against Islamic State militants in northeastern Turkey. "Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troop movements", Colonel Sean Ryan said.

The withdrawal began Thursday night, according to the UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

It said a convoy of ten armoured vehicles and some trucks had pulled out of Rmeilan, in Syria's north west, into Iraq.

The U.S. announcement that Mr. Trump's ordered withdrawal is underway might be enough to convince Turkey to hold fire against America's Kurdish battleground allies, for a while, but Erdogan still wants to go after them, and he could make good on his threats - even on a small scale - at any time.

But following a backlash from Republicans and Democrats in Congress and the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Trump said the troops would be withdrawn "slowly".

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been touring the Middle East this week to reassure allies of Washington's commitment to regional security, said on Thursday the withdrawal would not be scuppered despite the Turkish threats.

Ironically, troops that are designated to help with the eventual withdrawal already are in the area, adding more more troops in the vicinity now than before President Donald Trump announced the Syria withdrawal in December. Trump administration officials also have argued that the USA needs to stay in Syria to counter Iran's presence there.

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On December 19, Donald Trump said he had ordered the withdrawal of all United States forces in Syria, which are believed to number around 2,000.

There are 2,000 American troops in Syria.

After initially tweeting about the decision to bring back USA troops "now", Trump this week said "we will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary!"

Pompeo suggested on Monday that Erdogan and Trump had a firm agreement about the Kurds, telling CNBC that "the Turks would ensure that the folks that we'd fought with, that had assisted us in the counter-ISIS campaign would be protected". Russian Federation is mediating talks between the Syrian government and the Kurds to ensure a smooth transition when USA troops leave the region.

Kurdish officials, meanwhile, have demanded clarifications from the USA over its intentions.

The move fueled questions about the US commitment to eliminate remaining pockets of Islamic State militants as well as the fate of Kurdish forces that have fought alongside the USA but that Turkey considers terrorists. The lira fell sharply Tuesday on fears of renewed U.S.

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Americans are not serious about withdrawing from Syria. Russia, the Syrian government's most vital ally, would be happy to see the US pull out entirely of the war-torn country, where it has military bases and a significant troop presence.

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