Led coalition says Syria withdrawal has begun

Led coalition says Syria withdrawal has begun

Led coalition says Syria withdrawal has begun

The Donald Trump administration's confirmation that the USA military has begun pulling equipment out of Syria has highlighted the Pentagon's tensions with hawks such as national security adviser John Bolton, current and former defense officials told Al-Monitor.

The U.S. military command in Baghdad, which is managing the counter-IS campaign in Iraq and Syria, said Friday that it "has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria", adding that, for security reasons, it would not reveal timetables, locations or troop movements. It said a convoy of about 10 armored vehicles, in addition to some trucks, pulled out from Syria's northeastern town of Rmeilan into Iraq.

The surprise move comes amid conflicting statements over when a withdrawal would begin and at what pace since President Donald Trump abruptly announced the USA would leave last month.

Mr Trump abruptly announced the United States withdrawal from Syria on December 19, blindsiding USA allies and triggering a confrontation within the U.S. administration that led to the resignation of his defence secretary.

Earlier this week, the USA national security adviser John Bolton said American troops will not leave northeastern Syria until IS is defeated and American-allied Kurdish fighters are protected, signaling a slowdown in Trump's initial order for a rapid withdrawal. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also sought to reassure the Kurds they will be safe after the USA completely pulls out.

Uncertainty over the pace of withdrawal aside, military officials are working on the assumption that Trump wants all USA troops to leave, CNN reported, citing an administration official with direct knowledge of the operation.

Turkey dismissed that condition, and Pompeo said the withdrawal would continue.

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However, with many of Trump's hawkish security and defence advisers opposed to the move, the USA president could renege on his promise to end America's military presence in Syria, as he abruptly did a year ago.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he will carry out the long-planned offensive against the YPG, regardless of the USA withdrawal pace. The latter will no doubt prove the more hard objective to meet.

"We have Manbij, and the east of Euphrates ahead", Akar said, echoing threats going back months from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials to mount an operation in Syria against the YPG.

This lack of coherent planning continues close to a moth after the president's December 19 announcement of the withdrawal.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Turkey may buy U.S. Patriot missile systems if conditions are right, but insists such a deal would be impossible if Washington forces Ankara to cancel its agreement to purchase S-400 antiaircraft missiles from Russian Federation.

A senior Kurdish politician says the Kurds are aware of the US beginning to withdraw from Syria, describing it as "America's decision".

"It's clear that the administration has no real plan", said Sen.

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