Thursday, 20 June, 2019


Led coalition says it has started pulling out of Syria

American armoured vehicles at a US post near the town of Manbij in northern Syria. AP American armoured vehicles at a US post near the town of Manbij in northern Syria. AP
Bennie Garza | 11 January, 2019, 15:36

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.

The start of the withdrawal was confirmed this morning by Colonel Sean Ryan, the spokesman for US-led operations against Isis in Iraq and Syria.

"Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements", he said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.

"On Thursday, some American forces withdrew from the Rmeilan military base in Hasakeh province", Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based monitoring organisation, said.

Confirmation of the first withdrawals comes amid confusion over plans to implement Trump's pullout order and threats from Turkey to attack the Kurds, who have been America's partners on the ground in the war against the Islamic State group in Syria. Trump's abrupt decision in December to pull them, declaring in a tweet the defeat of IS, sent shockwaves across the region and a flurry of criticism from some of his generals and national security advisers, and led to the resignation of U.S. Defense Minister James Mattis and the top U.S. envoy to the anti-IS coalition.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly blasted national security adviser John Bolton Tuesday for saying the United States withdrawal was contingent upon Turkey's pledge not to attack US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria once American troops go home.

But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday the withdrawal would not be scuppered despite the Turkish threats. Russia, the Syrian government's most vital ally, would be happy to see the US pull out entirely of the war-torn country, where it has military bases and a significant troop presence.

The CNN report added that officials it had previously spoken to said the Pentagon wants to signal to the president it is working towards his goals following his withdrawal decision last month.

Kurdish officials, meanwhile, have demanded clarifications from the US over its intentions.

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

However, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the Turkish offensive would go ahead whether U.S. troops were in the area or not.

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.

Turkey views the USA -backed YPG Syrian Kurdish militia as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a 34-year insurgency in Turkey for Kurdish political and cultural rights, mostly in southeastern areas near Syria.

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