US Begins Troop Withdrawal From Syria

Erika Holt
January 14, 2019

The U.S. military said Friday it has started pulling equipment, but not troops, out of Syria as a first step in meeting President Donald Trump's demand for a complete military withdrawal.

Turkey announced the postponement of an attack last month when - even to the surprise of the Turkish president, according to the Associated Press - Erdogan convinced Trump to withdraw.

Russia's foreign ministry said Friday that it suspected the us government was really intent on maintaining a military force inside Syria indefinitely, in spite of the pullout officially being announced by the Americans.

Earlier this week, however, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said the United States would expect guarantees that the Kurds would be protected after American troops leave the area.

The U.S. military has a limited network of bases inside Syria.

Military planners are still working on the basis that all troops will be withdrawn from Syria.

"On Thursday, some American forces withdrew from the Rmeilan military base in Hasakeh province", Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based monitoring organisation, said.

A Kurdish politician told Reuters earlier this month that the leadership of northern Syria had presented Russian Federation with a road map for a deal and would pursue one regardless of USA plans.

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She also said the territory previously controlled by the United States should be transferred to the Syrian regime. He suggested that the protection of Kurdish allies in the country would be a redline for the withdrawal.

"When [President] Recep Tayyip Erdogan promises something, he keeps it".

Ankara sees the YPG as a terrorist group linked to the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) which has fought a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

President Trump blindsided global and regional allies, such as the YPG, on December 19 when he announced he would bring US troops home.

It also marked the culmination of years of criticism by Trump over Washington's role in foreign wars.

Mr. Trump's abrupt decision in December to pull them, declaring in a tweet the defeat of ISIS, sent shockwaves across the region and led to the resignation of U.S. Defense Minister James Mattis and the top U.S. envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition. In recent days Secretary of State Mike Pompeo toured the Middle East, reassuring allies of the U.S.'s regional commitments. He said the administration chose to go ahead with the withdrawal despite the military's concerns.

The withdrawal comes amid a escalating tensions between the Syrian Kurds and the Turkish government, which has promised an imminent attack. Once the troops are gone, the USA will have ended three years of organizing, arming, advising and providing air cover for Syrian, Kurdish and Arab fighters in an open-ended campaign devised by the Obama administration to deal the IS group a lasting defeat.

This article was updated to include comment from a Defense Department source.

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