Published: Sat, January 12, 2019
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

USA military begins withdrawal from Syria

USA military begins withdrawal from Syria

A spokesperson for the US -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.

The U.S. military said Friday it has begun withdrawing troops from Syria, initiating a drawdown that has blindsided allies and sparked a scramble for control of the areas that American troops will leave.

It said a convoy of about ten armored vehicles, in addition to some trucks, pulled out from Syria's northeastern town of Rmeilan into Iraq.

The first withdrawals come amid confusion over plans to implement President Donald Trump's pullout order and threats from Turkey to attack the Kurds, who are us allies in the fighting against ISIS.

Extending the timeline further, national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday that the pullout was conditional on the defeat of the last remnants of the Islamic State and guarantees from Turkey that it would not attack Kurdish forces aligned with the United States.

The coalition's announcement came a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed in an address to regional allies in Cairo that Washington was going ahead with the pullout of about 2,000 troops stationed in Syria.

There are 2,000 US troops in Syria and while the military has orders to follow the president's decision to withdraw, they have no timelines attached for how long it will take.

Residents near border-crossing points typically used by USA forces moving in and out of Syria from Iraq told Reuters they had seen no obvious or large-scale movements following Friday's announcement.

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Russia's foreign ministry said Friday that it suspected the USA government was really intent on maintaining a military force inside Syria indefinitely, in spite of the pullout officially being announced by the Americans.

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".

The announcement that U.S. troops would leave the civil war-racked country - where they have been deployed to assist in the multinational fight against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group - shocked global partners and American politicians alike.

The US president concluded: "Our troops are coming home!"

But the Journal reported the Pentagon execution order directing the withdrawal could be modified as details of the withdrawal plan are sorted out, noting the existing order did not include a date for the troops' exit. The latter will no doubt prove the more hard objective to meet.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu went so far on Wednesday as to say that if the USA withdrawal from Syria was delayed, "then we will put this decision into practice", suggesting Turkey could go after the Kurds in short order.

Now, America's allies on the ground are turning to Washington's rivals for protection.

And numerous Trump administration's decisions have stoked confusion and angered many regional allies.

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