Published: Sat, January 12, 2019
World News | By Sandy Lane

Led coalition: American withdrawal from Syria has begun

Led coalition: American withdrawal from Syria has begun

The U.S.is reportedly beginning the process of withdrawing troops from Syria.

FILE - In this Wednesday, April 4, 2018 file photo, a US 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.

President Donald Trump last month claimed the ISIS group had been defeated and said U.S. troops would return home "now".

The US-led military coalition in Syria has begun withdrawing troops, a spokesman has said, without elaborating on locations or timetables.

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American troops sent to help with the pullout are reportedly already in the region, specifically in Kuwait and the al-Asad air base in Iraq.

A convoy of ten U.S. 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 Defense Department did not directly address that report.

Extending the timeline further, national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday that the pullout was conditional on the defeat of the last remnants of the Islamic State and guarantees from Turkey that it would not attack Kurdish forces aligned with the United States. Turkey views the Kurdish YPG militia, which forms the core of the SDF force, as a national security threat. They're taking place even as Erdogan says his military is prepared for a possible operation in northern Syria. He spoke before the announcement on the USA withdrawal and did not address it.

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Turkey views the US -backed YPG Syrian Kurdish militia as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a 34-year insurgency in Turkey for Kurdish political and cultural rights, mostly in southeastern areas near Syria.

Turkey dismissed that condition, and Pompeo said the withdrawal would continue.

Both NBC and CBS point out that this appears to contradict messaging from both Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. On Thursday, Pompeo declared that the U.S.is a "force for good" in the Middle East.

While the US military pullout is now officially underway it has made a slow start.

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While Mr Trump's tweets announcing his decision declared that ISIS had been defeated and suggested the withdrawal would begin immediately, the president later clarified that it would be done gradually after facing resistance from his security officials and the Pentagon. Washington is also facing criticism in Turkey for sending conflicting messages on its Syria policy. On Dec. 23, he said there would be a "slow & highly coordinated pullout of US troops from the area".

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