BAGHDAD (AP)– After days of backward and forward over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pullout American troops from Syria, a U.S. military authorities said Friday the procedure of withdrawal has started, declining to discuss particular schedules or motions.
Col. Sean Ryan, representative for the U.S.-led union fighting the Islamic State group, said “the procedure of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria” has started.
” Out of issue for functional security, we will not talk about particular timelines, locations or soldiers motions,” the Baghdad-based authorities stated in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.
There were no other details, and it was not right away clear how lots of cars or whether any troop units had actually withdrawn.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the dispute in Syria through a network of activists on the ground, said the withdrawal began Thursday night. It said a convoy of about 10 armored vehicles, in addition to some trucks, took out from Syria’s northeastern town of Rmeilan into Iraq.
Confirmation of the first withdrawals comes amid confusion over strategies to execute Trump’s pullout order and dangers 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.
There are 2,000 American soldiers in Syria. Trump’s abrupt decision in December to pull them, declaring in a tweet the defeat of IS, sent shockwaves throughout the area and a flurry of criticism from some of his generals and national security advisors, and led to the resignation of U.S. Defense Minister James Mattis and the leading U.S. envoy to the anti-IS union. It also led to major criticism that the U.S. was deserting its local Kurdish allies amidst Turkish dangers of an imminent attack.
On Sunday, U.S. nationwide security advisor John Bolton stated American troops will not leave northeastern Syria till IS is beat and American-allied Kurdish fighters are safeguarded, indicating a slow-down in Trump’s initial order for a rapid withdrawal. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is on a trip of the region, has also looked for to reassure the Kurds that they will be safe after U.S. troops withdraw from the nation.
” These have actually been folks that have battled with us and it’s essential that we do everything we can to make sure that those folks that combated with us are secured,” Pompeo stated of the Kurds while visiting Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, after talks in Baghdad.
After initially tweeting about the choice to bring back U.S. troops “now,” Trump today stated “we will be leaving at a correct speed while at the exact same time continuing to fight ISIS and doing all else that is sensible and necessary!”
Kurdish officials, on the other hand, have required clarifications from the U.S. over its intentions. A U.S. troop pullout leaves the Kurds exposed to Turkish attacks from one side, and Syrian government soldiers on the other. The withdrawal advantages Syrian President Bashar Assad and his international backers, Russia and Iran, who are primed to move into the region to fill a vacuum left by the Americans.
U.S. troops have actually been involved in Syria’s war given that 2014 when the first elite force got here in the country to encourage Kurdish-led fighters who were included in fights versus the Islamic State group.
Karam reported from Beirut. Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed.