U.S. withdraws some military equipment from Syria

Elias Hubbard
January 11, 2019

The US-led military coalition in Syria has begun the process of withdrawing troops from Syria, a US military official said Friday, declining to comment on specific timetables or movements.

President Donald Trump confirmed a Syria withdrawal Sunday, but shifted slightly on the timing, saying "we won't be finally pulled out until [the Islamic State] is gone".

Following the announcement, Defense Secretary James Mattis submitted his resignation letter.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday there is "no contradiction whatsoever" in the administration's Syria strategy, the Journal reported, declaring the withdrawal will take place.

The reference was to Bolton's remarks this week the United States would not exit Syria until Turkey promised not to target U.S. Kurdish partners.

Washington's Kurdish allies in northern Syria fear the withdrawal will open the way for Turkey to mount a long-threatened offensive against their area.

The fate of US troops in Syria was further muddled Tuesday when Turkish President Recep Erdogan said Bolton made a "grave mistake" when he demanded Turkey pledge protection of the American supported Kurdish fighters.

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. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is on a tour of the region, has also sought to reassure the Kurds that they will be safe after USA troops withdraw from the country. Syria's deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday he was optimistic about renewed dialogue with the Kurds. "President Macron spoke to him (Trump) several times and it seems that there has been a change that I think is positive", he said in a television interview on Thursday.

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. "Obviously when there is a political solution, we will withdraw", he said without elaborating.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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