World

US Military Official Says Troop Withdrawal From Syria Has Begun

US Military Official Says Troop Withdrawal From Syria Has Begun

Military planners calculate the Pentagon might have to send hundreds of additional forces into Syria on a variety of missions in order to safely withdraw more than 2,000 USA ground forces there, according to two U.S. officials.

"I think that the supporters of preserving the U.S.'s illegal military presence in Syria have rather strong positions in Washington...."

U.S. troops have begun withdrawing from Syria, compounding weeks of confusion over Donald Trump's policy in the Middle East and raising fears over the fate of America's Kurdish allies. "I wish I were wrong", Rybakov continued in response to a question from Russian state media. Top U.S. officials were shocked too, among them Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who quit in protest. But determining what the US plan for withdrawing from Syria is has become a complicated task for many. On Thursday, Turkey's foreign minister said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had already made the decision to launch an offensive against the Kurds in northern Syria, and that it would go ahead regardless of the presence of American forces.

Col Sean Ryan told Agence France-Presse in a statement: "Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria".

But experts were quick to point out that the Islamic State had not been defeated.

The first withdrawals come amid confusion over plans to implement President Donald Trump's pullout order and threats from Turkey to attack the Kurds, who are USA allies in the fighting against ISIS.




Mr Trump's shock announcement on December 19 that he was withdrawing American troops from Syria alarmed United States allies and prompted the resignation of his defence secretary Jim Mattis. Turkey views the Kurdish YPG militia, which forms the core of the SDF force, as a national security threat.

Turkey was a rare ally that lauded Trump's momentous decision on Syria, a country where it will now have a freer rein to target US-allied Kurdish fighters who have played a major role in the war against IS but are deemed terrorists by Ankara.

US troops have been involved in Syria's war since 2014 when the first elite force arrived in the country to advise Kurdish-led fighters who were involved in battles against the Islamic State group.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly blasted national security adviser John Bolton Tuesday for saying the USA withdrawal was contingent upon Turkey's pledge not to attack US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria once American troops go home.

But the Journal reported the Pentagon execution order directing the withdrawal could be modified as details of the withdrawal plan are sorted out, noting the existing order did not include a date for the troops' exit.


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