US starts withdrawing supplies from Syria

14 January, 2019, 05:00 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • U.S. soldier left sits on an armored vehicle behind a sand barrier at a newly installed position near the front line between the U.S-backed Syrian Manbij Military Council and the Turkish-backed fight

The U.S. military has begun the process of withdrawing troops from Syria, a U.S. defense official confirmed to CBS News on Friday, saying it was expected to take between 90 and 120 days.

A Defense Department spokesperson later said that while equipment was being moved out of Syria, troops were not withdrawing.

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 US-led coalition has several other bases across northeastern Syria, as well as in neighbouring Iraq, where Trump has said his forces would remain.

President Donald Trump warned Turkey not to attack Kurdish forces in Syria after a planned USA pullout, saying the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally would be economically devastated if it did so.

Trump's hasty announcement in December of a US exit from the war-torn country has caused confusion among allies and adversaries alike, and it also led to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis.

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

Pompeo arrived in Abu Dhabi on Friday as part of his regional tour aimed at reassuring Washington's Middle Eastern allies of its continued commitment to the complete dismantlement of Daesh a href="https://sputniknews.com/us/201812191070826973-us-military-syria/" *withdraw some 2,000 USA troops now deployed in the Middle Eastern country.

There are 2,000 American troops in Syria.

"It doesn't materially alter our capacity to continue to perform the military actions that we need to perform", Pompeo told reporters in Abu Dhabi.

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In Moscow on Friday, Maria Zakharova, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, expressed doubt that the USA would continue with its withdrawal, according to Russia's Interfax news agency.

Washington's Kurdish allies in northern Syria fear the withdrawal will open the way for Turkey to mount a long-threatened offensive against their area. On Dec. 23, he said there would be a "slow & highly coordinated pullout of USA troops from the area".

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.

US troops are still working with a partner known as the Syrian Democratic Forces to stamp out the last IS holdouts in the Middle Euphrates River Valley near the Iraqi border. It also led to major criticism that the USA was abandoning its local Kurdish allies amid Turkish threats of an imminent attack.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu went so far on Wednesday as to say that if the USA withdrawal from Syria was delayed, "then we will put this decision into practice", suggesting Turkey could go after the Kurds in short order.

Earlier this week, Bolton's calls for the protection of the YPG Syrian Kurdish militia as a condition for a Syrian withdrawal angered Turkey.

"When the time and place comes, the terrorists here will be buried in the ditches they have dug, as was done in previous operations", Akar told the Turkish troops.

Both NBC and CBS point out that this appears to contradict messaging from both Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

When Trump ordered the US pullout on December 19, he declared victory over ISIS and said, "Our boys, our young women, our men, they're all coming back, and they're coming back now".

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