American troops start withdrawing from Syria, official says

American troops start withdrawing from Syria, official says

The US-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) confirmed on Friday that the military had started the "deliberate withdrawal" of the roughly 2,000 American troops in Syria.

A Trump Administration official says the military has started withdrawing ground equipment from the region in recent days.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a United Kingdom based war monitor, reported earlier that the US-led coalition in Syria had started scaling down its presence at Rmeilan airfield in the Hasakeh province of northeastern Syria. It says about 10 armored vehicles and other equipment arrived at a USA base in al-Rmelan, in al-Hasaka province.

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. Within the Trump administration, disagreement over the pullout quickly led to the resignations of both Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Brett McGurk, the president's special envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS.

But another source close to Kurdish military officials in Syria told VOA it appeared the USA military is in the process of relocating equipment and personnel within Syria.

President Donald Trump claimed in December that U.S. troops had defeated the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and would now return home.

"If the [pullout] is put off with ridiculous excuses like Turks are massacring Kurds, which do not reflect the reality, we will implement this decision", Çavuşoğlu said, referring to Turkey's threat to launch an incursion into Kurdish controlled Syria.

A US military official spoke Friday of the withdrawal process, but declined to comment on specific timetables or movements.

But Bolton said Friday during a radio interview that talks are ongoing between the USA military and Turkey regarding the Kurdish forces that have battled IS.

Global players in the conflict have been in talks about the future of former US territory in Syria.

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. Following the announcement, he was forced to reiterate the U.S.'s commitment to its more substantial troop to neighboring Iraq, where the US -led coalition is also fighting ISIS.

Earlier this week, Bolton called security assurances for the US -backed Kurdish forces a necessary condition for the withdrawal of USA forces from Syria.

On a visit to Turkish troops stationed near the Syrian border Friday, Turkey's defense minister, Hulusi Akar, reiterated that Ankara is "determined" to fight Kurdish militias it considers terrorists and said military preparations were ongoing.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow Friday, she said it appears to Moscow that the U.S.

"When the time and place comes, the terrorists here will also be buried in the ditches and trenches they have dug", he said. In this photo from December 30, 2018, a line of US military vehicles are seen at a checkpoint in northern Syria.

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.

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