U.S. Has 'Begun The Process' Of Withdrawing From Syria, Pentagon Says

Hugh Fox
January 14, 2019

President Donald trump argued that the decision by the U.S. victory over the militants of the terrorist organization Islamic state in Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had earlier reported that the coalition had started scaling down its presence at Rmeilan airfield in the notheastern province of Hasakeh.

Trump's hasty announcement in December of a USA 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.

Over recent weeks, senior USA officials have offered confusing and contradictory accounts of the terms and speed with which the U.S. is leaving.

The U.S. -led coalition in Syria is beginning to withdraw troops from the country. It also sparked criticisms that the U.S.is pulling out of Syria before ISIS is truly defeated - abandoning America's Kurdish allies in the region, ceding hard-won influence to neighboring Turkey, and rewarding Russia's intervention alongside the Syrian regime. Also, U.S. troops are among 200 to 300 coalition troops at a garrison in southern Syria known as al-Tanf, where they train and accompany local Syrian opposition forces on patrols to counter the IS group.

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"The Americans have a right to make decisions that are in their country's security and national interests", said Ilham Ahmed, who co-chairs the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Council in northeast Syria.

A US military official spoke Friday of the withdrawal process, but declined to comment on specific timetables or movements.

Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman for the US-led coalition said in a statement Friday that the coalition "has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria", but did not provide additional details. It also led to major criticism that the USA was abandoning its local Kurdish allies amid Turkish threats of an imminent attack.

The official provided no numbers, but said the equipment withdrawal is underway and an unspecified number of additional US troops have been brought into Syria to assist with the withdrawal process.

FILE - In this Wednesday, April 4, 2018 file photo, a USA 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 fighters, in Manbij, north Syria.

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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. Turkey considers the YPG to be part of the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers Party, a separatist group in eastern Turkey which has been labeled a terrorist organization by Turkey, the USA and the European Union. But the peace and stability of areas USA forces withdraw from "must be guaranteed", she added. Trump has asserted that the IS group in Syria is defeated, but others have said a continued USA military presence is necessary to prevent a resurgence of the group.

"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.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed back on reports the administration was contradicting itself Thursday on a trip to Cairo, Egypt, saying "there's no contradiction whatsoever".

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

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