US official says troop withdrawal from Syria has started

Remigio Civitarese
Gennaio 11, 2019

In the meantime, Russia's foreign ministry said on Friday that it had the impression that the United States wanted to stay in Syria despite the announced withdrawal of U.S. troops, RIA news agency reported.

Military planners calculate the Pentagon might have to send hundreds of additional forces into Syria on a variety of missions in order to safely withdraw more than 2,000 USA ground forces there, according to two U.S. officials.

The official, who asked not to be named, told Anadolu Agency the removal of "some of the equipment" had begun.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict in Syria through a network of activists on the ground, said the withdrawal began Thursday night.

The fact that Bolton laid the demand for protection of Kurdish fighters as a condition for USA withdrawal from Syria sparked Erdogan's anger.

It said a convoy of ten armoured vehicles and some trucks had pulled out of Rmeilan, in Syria's north west, into Iraq.

The announcement that USA 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.

President Donald Trump's announcement last month that he had chose to withdraw 2,000 US troops stunned allies that have joined Washington in the battle against Islamic State in Syria.

The reference was to Bolton's remarks this week the United States would not exit Syria until Turkey promised not to target U.S. Kurdish partners. Russia, the Syrian government's most vital ally, would be happy to see the USA pull out entirely of the war-torn country, where it has military bases and a significant troop presence.

Trump's decision to remove troops from Syria sent shockwaves through the embattled region and led to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis.

While the USA military pullout is now officially underway it has made a slow start.

US national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday American troops will not leave northeastern Syria until ISIS is defeated and USA -backed Kurds were protected.

"President Trump has made the decision to bring our troops home from Syria".

The US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said the move had "dangerous implications" for stability, would "negatively affect the campaign against terrorism" and create "a political and military vacuum".

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Americans are not serious about withdrawing from Syria.

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.

Syrian Kurds demonstrate against threats from Turkey to carry out a fresh offensive following the USA decision to withdraw their troops in the Syrian Kurdish-majority city Qamishli, on December 28, 2018.

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