U.S. official says withdrawal from Syria has began – Each day Breeze



By PHILIP ISSA and ZEINA KARAM

BAGHDAD — After days of backwards and forwards over U.S. President Donald Trump’s determination to pullout American troops from Syria, a U.S. army official mentioned Friday the method of withdrawal has begun, declining to touch upon particular timetables or actions.

Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition combating the Islamic State group, mentioned “the method of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria” has began.

“Out of concern for operational safety, we won’t talk about particular timelines, places or troops actions,” the Baghdad-based official mentioned in an announcement emailed to The Related Press.

There have been no different particulars, and it was not instantly clear what number of automobiles or whether or not any troop items had withdrawn.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which displays the battle in Syria via a community of activists on the bottom, mentioned the withdrawal started Thursday night time. It mentioned a convoy of about 10 armored automobiles, along with some vehicles, pulled out from Syria’s northeastern city of Rmeilan into Iraq.

Affirmation of the primary withdrawals comes amid confusion over plans to implement Trump’s pullout order and threats from Turkey to assault the Kurds, who’ve been America’s companions on the bottom within the struggle in opposition to the Islamic State group in Syria.

Badran Ciya Kurd, a Syrian Kurdish official reached by the AP, declined to remark concerning the withdrawal. Others weren’t instantly out there.

There are 2,000 American troops in Syria. Trump’s abrupt determination in December to drag them, declaring in a tweet the defeat of IS, despatched shockwaves throughout the area and a flurry of criticism from a few of his generals and nationwide safety advisers, and led to the resignation of U.S. Protection Minister James Mattis and the highest U.S. envoy to the anti-IS coalition. It additionally led to main criticism that the U.S. was abandoning its native Kurdish allies amid Turkish threats of an imminent assault.

On Sunday, U.S. nationwide safety adviser John Bolton mentioned American troops won’t go away northeastern Syria till IS is defeated and American-allied Kurdish fighters are protected, signaling a slow-down in Trump’s preliminary order for a speedy withdrawal. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who’s on a tour of the area, has additionally sought to reassure the Kurds that they are going to be protected after U.S. troops withdraw from the nation.

“These have been of us which have fought with us and it’s vital that we do every thing we will to make sure that these of us that fought with us are protected,” Pompeo mentioned of the Kurds whereas visiting Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan area, after talks in Baghdad.

After initially tweeting concerning the determination to convey again U.S. troops “now,” Trump this week mentioned “we will probably be leaving at a correct tempo whereas on the identical time persevering with to battle ISIS and doing all else that’s prudent and crucial!”

Kurdish officers, in the meantime, have demanded clarifications from the U.S. over its intentions. A U.S. troop pullout leaves the Kurds uncovered to Turkish assaults from one facet, and Syrian authorities troops on the opposite. The withdrawal advantages Syrian President Bashar Assad and his worldwide backers, Russia and Iran, who’re primed to maneuver into the area to fill a vacuum left behind by the Individuals.

Russia’s Overseas Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova mentioned the Individuals will not be critical about withdrawing from Syria.

Chatting with reporters in Moscow Friday, she mentioned it seems to Moscow that the U.S. “is in search of a purpose to remain.” She mentioned Russia has not seen public statements laying out the U.S. technique in Syria and so can not make certain that the U.S. is critical about leaving.

U.S. troops have been concerned in Syria’s struggle since 2014 when the primary elite pressure arrived within the nation to advise Kurdish-led fighters who had been concerned in battles in opposition to the Islamic State group.

Karam reported from Beirut. Related Press writers Bassem Mroue in Beirut and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed.



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