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Led coalition says Syria withdrawal has begun
11 January 2019, 03:39 | Devin Moran
MinistryTrump's Syria Pull-Out US and Turkey on Thin Ice Over Kurds… Again
The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State (IS) group has begun the process of withdrawing from Syria, its spokesman said on Friday, affirming the start of a pullout that has been clouded by mixed messages from US officials.
"Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements", Ryan said in a statement to the Associated Press.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict in Syria through a network of activists on the ground, said the withdrawal began Thursday night.
The order to withdraw American troops from Syria had been signed, after President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart agreed to prevent a power vacuum in the wake of the controversial move.
Mr Trump's national security adviser John Bolton was also sent to the region this week to reassure Israel, which is equally concerned about the Iranian presence in Syria, and to deter Turkey from launching its threatened offensive against the US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia that led the fight against ISIS in north-east Syria.
The US military has removed some equipment from Syria, a defense official confirmed Thursday, following a report that the drawdown ordered by President Donald Trump is now underway.
"These have been folks that have fought with us and it's important that we do everything we can to ensure that those folks that fought with us are protected", Pompeo said of the Kurds while visiting Erbil, the capital of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, after talks in Baghdad.
President Trump shocked nearly everyone - from Congress and the Pentagon, to America's allies and enemies around the world - when he announced the pullout, arguing that the United States was "getting nothing" from its involvement in the country.
The comments were an example of the perspective that many Russian officials hold, which posits that the U.S.is an imperialist power working to maintain global hegemony. A US troop pullout leaves the Kurds exposed to Turkish attacks from one side, and Syrian government troops on the other.
Syrian Kurds demonstrate against threats from Turkey to carry out a fresh offensive following the USA decision to withdraw their troops in the Syrian Kurdish-majority city Qamishli, on December 28, 2018.
Turkey considers America's Kurdish allies of the YPG militia - who were vital in the ground war against ISIS - a terrorist group.
After initially tweeting that he would bring back USA troops "now", Mr Trump this week said the USA would "be leaving at a proper pace" while "continuing to fight IS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary".
In the weeks following his announcement, Mr Trump has given differing signals over the future of U.S. involvement in the country.
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