Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

US Begins Troop Withdrawal From Syria

US Begins Troop Withdrawal From Syria

The U.S. -led coalition against Islamic State has begun the process of withdrawing from Syria, a spokesman said on Friday, indicating the start of a U.S. pullout that has been clouded by mixed messages from Washington.

A spokesperson for the USA -led coalition against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) said the withdrawal had gone ahead despite mixed messages from the White House over the fate of the 2,000 troops operating in the country. In a statement, it said the USA -led Operation Inherent Resolve "has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria".

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

The US-led coalition has several other bases across northeastern Syria, as well as in neighbouring Iraq, where Mr Trump has said American forces will remain.

News of the first steps of a withdrawal come as the negotiating with Turkey about guaranteeing protections for USA -allied Kurdish fighters.

Operation Inherent Resolve, the USA military's term for its intervention in Syria and Iraq, now means "implementing the orderly withdrawal of forces from northeast Syria within a framework coordinated across the U.S. government", Pentagon spokesperson Sean Robertson said on Friday evening.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced via Twitter on December 19 that all U.S. troops in Syria would come home.

On Friday, Bolton said that the militaries of the United States and Turkey are set to continue negotiating on the Kurdish issue.

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The announcement is fueling concern about how quickly the USA will abandon its Kurdish allies, amid contradictory statements recently by Trump administration officials on an exit timetable. Stalling the process were fears about Turkey invading territory held by Kurdish allies to the USA, and leaving a power vacuum in the war-torn country.

America "will use diplomacy and work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot" from Syria and bolster efforts "to bring peace and stability to the long-suffering Syrian people", he said during a speech in Egypt.

In addition, US warplanes from the aircraft carrier Stennis, patrolling the Persian Gulf, were flying missions over Syria and Iraq, Stars & Stripes reported from aboard the Stennis. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government considers the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria to be a terrorist organization linked to Kurdish separatist groups within Turkey.

USA troops have been involved in Syria's war since 2014 when the first elite force arrived in the country to advise Kurdish-led fighters who were involved in battles against the Islamic State group.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow Friday, she said it appears to Moscow that the U.S. But the peace and stability of areas US forces withdraw from "must be guaranteed", she added.

"When the time and place comes, the terrorists here will also be buried in the ditches and trenches they have dug", the minister said in southern Sanliurfa province.

"We are confident we can achieve an outcome that achieves both of those", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told journalists in Abu Dhabi.

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