Syria troop withdrawal under way, says US-led coalition

Cheryl Sanders
January 11, 2019

The U.S. military is going ahead with plans for a withdraw of all American troops from Syria despite a shifting timetable, and a U.S. -Turkey rift that might delay the pullout, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by telephone on Sunday and "agreed to ensure coordination between their countries' military, diplomatic and other officials to avoid a power vacuum which could result following any abuse of the withdrawal and transition phase in Syria", the Turkish presidency said in a statement. The official told CBS News senior national security correspondent David Martin that equipment had begun moving out earlier this week.

A convoy of ten USA military vehicles was seen leaving a base in Hasakah province in northeast Syria and heading towards the Iraqi border, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The coalition "has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria".


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a convoy of about 10 armoured vehicles and some trucks pulled out from the north-eastern town of Rmeilan on Thursday night and crossed the border into Iraq.

Mr Trump initially signalled a rapid withdrawal from Syria and United States officials said they expected troops to be out with 30 days.

Confirmation of the first withdrawals comes amid confusion over plans to implement President Donald 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.

The decision has injected new uncertainties into the eight-year long Syrian war and a flurry of contacts over how a resulting security vacuum will be filled across a swathe of northern and eastern Syria where the USA forces are stationed.


National security adviser John Bolton traveled to Israel and Turkey, where he said he would seek assurances from Turkey that the Kurds would be protected and pledged that the USA would ensure that ISIS is defeated.

"President Trump has made the decision to bring our troops home from Syria". Reports suggested that Turkey was preparing a military attack against the Kurds in Syria, who Erdogan views as an extension of a Kurdish group in Turkey that the government has been battling for decades.

In the weeks following his announcement, Mr Trump has given differing signals over the future of USA involvement in the country.


Other reports by iNewsToday

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