USA begins Syria withdrawal, amid uncertainty over strategy

USA begins Syria withdrawal, amid uncertainty over strategy

The US-led coalition has several other bases across northeastern Syria, as well as in neighbouring Iraq, where Trump has said his forces would remain.

The US-led coalition in Syria has begun withdrawing its troops, a spokesman said Friday, less than a month after US President Donald Trump made his shock announcement.

Trump's decision to withdraw all of the 2,000 U.S. troops from the war-torn country prompted shockwaves among USA senior officials and United States allies in December.

Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said that there are some elements among the Kurds in Syria who pose a legitimate national security threat to Turkey and that hopes to have a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to discuss the situation in Syria, a statement released by the senator said Saturday.

So far, senior defense officials have declined to provide a timeline of when troops might start coming home.

"I can confirm the movement of equipment from Syria", the official told AFP.


The CNN report added that officials it had previously spoken to said the Pentagon wants to signal to the president it is working towards his goals following his withdrawal decision last month.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the coalition had started scaling down its presence at Rmeilan airfield in the notheastern province of Hasakeh.

The beginning of the drawdown coincided with a visit to the Middle East by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who insisted in Cairo Thursday that the withdrawal would go ahead despite widespread criticism. 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. But in a speech on the same day, he ironically added: "When America retreats, chaos often follows".

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist announcement and has repeatedly threatened to move into Syria to create a buffer zone along the border.

Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast. Russian Military Police were reportedly seen on the ground in the contentions SDF held town of Manbij last week. "The Trump Administration's foreign policy is as deeply flawed in its conception as it is dangerously incompetent in its execution", Schiff, who is the chairperson of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, tweeted.

"The damage is done", said Fabrice Balanche, a geographer and Syria expert.

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