Led coalition says Syria troop withdrawal has begun

12 January, 2019, 04:12 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Turkey Stands By Deal To Buy Russian Missiles, Attack Kurds In Syria

"CJTF-OIR has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria", spokesman Colonel Sean Ryan told the AFP news agency in a statement, referring to the US-led anti-Islamic State group (IS) force.

The US says it has begun the process of withdrawing from Syria but Russian Federation cast doubt on the claim Friday, saying it thinks Washington wants to stay in the Arab country. He said the USA will not discuss a specific timeline, locations or troop movements out of concern for operational security.

Separately, the head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, confirmed that the USA had started withdrawing troops from the airfield base near the town of Rmeilan in northeast Syria on Thursday evening.

It said a convoy of ten armoured vehicles and some trucks had pulled out of Rmeilan, in Syria's north west, into Iraq. It also sparked criticisms that the U.S.is pulling out of Syria before ISIS is truly defeated - abandoning America's Kurdish allies in the region, ceding hard-won influence to neighboring Turkey, and rewarding Russia's intervention alongside the Syrian regime. Ankara considers the presence of well-armed Kurdish forces near its southern border to be a national security threat.

Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser John Bolton on Sunday outlined conditions for US troop departure from Syria, including a provision that Turkey should guarantee the safety of YPG Kurdish militants in Syria.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday there is "no contradiction whatsoever" in the administration's Syria strategy, the Journal reported, declaring the withdrawal will take place.

Meanwhile, Turkey's defense minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday that his country is preparing for an "intense" attack across the Euphrates in Syria, as soon as the Americans withdraw. Trump's decision drew intense criticism that the US was abandoning its local Kurdish allies and led to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis and Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIS.

While he didn't release details, a USA military official recently said equipment is being removed from the region.

A senior Kurdish politician said the Kurds are aware of the US beginning its withdraw process, describing it as "America's decision".

The planned withdrawal of US forces and possible repercussions adds to the turmoil in a region embroiled in a seven-year-old civil war that has displaced millions and killed at least 400,000 through 2016, according to the most recent United Nations estimate.

America's operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the country were to continue during the withdrawal process.

"Although we made a clear agreement with U.S. President Trump, different voices are emerging from different parts of the administration", Erdogan said this week as Bolton wrapped up his visit.

Earlier this week, Bolton called security assurances for the USA -backed Kurdish forces a necessary condition for the withdrawal of US forces from Syria. He spoke before the announcement on the USA withdrawal and did not address it.

The US president concluded: "Our troops are coming home!" In response to questions, she said, "I can not share your confidence that they are leaving there because we never saw an official strategy".



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