Led coalition says Syria troop withdrawal has begun

Led coalition says Syria troop withdrawal has begun

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian of France, which is part of the USA -led coalition, welcomed what he believed was a slower withdrawal by the U.S after pressure from its allies.

The US has begun its operation to pull troops out of Syria, sending naval vessels and back-up forces to the region to assist with the withdrawal.

Kurdish officials, meanwhile, have demanded clarifications from the USA over its intentions.

Zakharova said Moscow has not seen public statements laying out the us strategy in Syria and so can not be sure that the U.S.is serious about leaving.

The official provided no numbers, but said the equipment withdrawal is underway and an unspecified number of additional USA troops have been brought into Syria to assist with the withdrawal process. Troops work mostly out of small camps in remote parts of the country's northeast.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu went so far on Wednesday as to say that if the USA withdrawal from Syria was delayed, "then we will put this decision into practice", suggesting Turkey could go after the Kurds in short order. Top U.S. officials were shocked too, among them Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who quit in protest. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, called the decision a "betrayal of our Kurdish partners".

"The United States will continue to provide support to the Coalition's operation in Syria while withdrawing troops in a deliberate and coordinated manner in order to ensure the safety and protection of USA forces", Robertson said in the statement.

"That includes planning for the moving of people and equipment, preparation of facilities to accept retrograde equipment", the official said, noting that no troops had been withdrawn yet. A US troop pullout leaves the Kurds exposed to Turkish attacks from one side, and Syrian government troops on the other.

US national security advisor John Bolton said Friday that talks between USA and Turkish military officials will continue next week.

She added that the peace and stability of areas United States forces withdraw from "must be guaranteed", including by putting an end to the Turkish threats and fully eradicating the IS group and its sleeper cells.




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

Another complication is the fate of hundreds of foreign IS fighters being held in Syria.

"On the ground, the announcement of the pullout is as if they were already gone".

Confirmation of the first withdrawals comes amid confusion over plans to implement President Donald Trump's pullout order and threats from Turkey to attack the Kurds, who have been America's partners on the ground in the war against the Islamic State group in Syria.

Zakharova also said Russian Federation remains committed to an agreement it had struck with Turkey to stabilize a de-escalation zone in Syria's Idlib province, but Moscow is anxious by an increase in the number of ceasefire violations there.

Ilham Ahmed, who co-chairs the US -backed Syrian Democratic Council in northeast Syria, said the Americans have a right to make decisions that are in their country's security and national interests.

In Cairo on Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that although Trump has made a decision to bring troops home, he will keep up the fight against the IS group more broadly.

The coalition's announcement came a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed in an address to regional allies in Cairo that Washington was going ahead with the pullout of about 2,000 troops stationed in Syria. However, the Kurds reached out to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for help.

Worldwide players in the conflict have been in talks about the future of former US territory in Syria. He has, however, asserted that the US must bring an end to the Mideast wars that began after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. "Trump's remarks continue to be the main point of reference for us".

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