US Withdrawal From Syria So Far Is Only Equipment, American Official Says
14 January, 2019, 04:56 | Author: Donnie King
The Pentagon says US military personnel in Syria are moving ahead with President Trump's order to pull out of the war-torn country.
"This is the first such pullout of American forces since the USA president's announcement" of a military withdrawal from Syria last month, he said.
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.
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.
Earlier this week, US National Security Advisor John Bolton laid out conditions for the pullout, including the defeat of the ISIS in Syria and guarantees for the safety of Washington's Kurdish allies in the campaign, who have been threatened with an imminent offensive by Turkey.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is now on a Middle East tour to reassure allies about US plans to withdraw troops from Syria.
The official provided no numbers, but said the equipment withdrawal is under way and that an unspecified number of additional US troops have been brought into Syria to assist with the withdrawal process.
"It is not possible for us to swallow the message Bolton gave from Israel", Erdogan said in the Turkish Parliament after refusing to meet with Bolton on his visit to Turkey.
He spoke before the announcement on the USA withdrawal and did not address it.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he will carry out the long-planned offensive against the YPG, regardless of the US withdrawal pace.
He said that Turkey and other countries in the middle East are able to resist the remnants of ISIS in Syria without the support of the American side.
Most immediately impacted may be America's Syrian Kurdish allies, who proved an effective fighting force against Islamic State militants. A US troop pullout leaves the Kurds exposed to Turkish attacks from one side, and Syrian government troops on the other. Turkey views the Kurdish YPG militia, which forms the core of the SDF force, as a national security threat. In this photo from December 30, 2018, a line of USA military vehicles are seen at a checkpoint in northern Syria. On Dec. 23, he said there would be a "slow & highly coordinated pullout of US troops from the area".
"When the time and place comes, the terrorists here will also be buried in the ditches and trenches they have dug", he said. But the peace and stability of areas USA forces withdraw from "must be guaranteed", she added.
Both NBC and CBS point out that this appears to contradict messaging from both Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The news follows weeks of confusion over Donald Trump's plans for U.S. withdrawal from the country.
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