The US military has begun the process of withdrawing its troops from Syria following a withdrawal decided by President Donald Trump, a military official said Friday.
Colonel Sean Ryan, spokesman for the US coalition fighting the group of Islamic states in Syria and Iraq, refused to discuss specific operational details regarding the withdrawal, such as scheduling and troop movements, but said in a statement. an email that the withdrawal was in progress.
About 2,000 American soldiers are in Syria.
The army has already transported a cargo from Syria, according to a US defense official who was not allowed to speak publicly about the issue. The Trump order is a complete withdrawal of the troops and their equipment.
Troops in Syria have weapons, communications equipment and vehicles to be moved. Planning is underway to identify facilities capable of managing the equipment, added the manager. No troops have left yet.
It may take months to complete the withdrawal.
This development comes as the White House National Security Advisor, John Bolton, appeared to contradict Trump 's order when he said the withdrawal would not be immediate, that it would not happen. would not produce until the Islamic State was totally defeated and that it would be subordinated to Turkey's commitment not to attack the United States the allies of the Kurdish army in Syria.
None of Bolton's conditions has been met.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to meet Bolton during his visit to Turkey this week and described his withdrawal from US troops as a "serious mistake". Turkey considers that some members of a Syrian-Kurdish Arab coalition fighting alongside US troops are terrorists and applauded Trump's decision.
Turkey has amassed thousands of soldiers along its border with Syria and has long threatened to unilaterally attack Kurdish militias, which it claims have links with separatist groups that murdered and bombed the Turkish government during decades. The US withdrawal from the region could embolden Ankara.
"I have worries, my biggest concern … it's probably the Kurds and … how much we're going to leave them defenseless," said newly elected Senator Kevin Cramer, RND, to the US military's Stars and Times. Stripes.
On Monday, Bolton said Trump "would not allow Turkey to kill the Kurds".
Trump announced the withdrawal about three weeks ago on December 19th. A day later, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued a resignation letter stating that he no longer approved of the president's thinking on military operations.
According to a recent report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, ISIS is far from being erased. The Washington-based think-tank estimates that between 20,000 and 30,000 Islamic State militants would still be in Syria and Iraq.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group that monitors the Syrian conflict through a network of activists in the field, said the withdrawal of the United States began Thursday night . A convoy of a dozen armored vehicles, in addition to a few trucks, has withdrawn from a military base located in the city of Rmelan, northeastern Syria, in Iraq.
The US-led coalition has been fighting the Islamic State in the Middle East since 2014 and Mattis said before leaving his post that declaring victory and leaving Syria would be a mistake.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended Trump's order this week while he was touring the Middle East where he resumed the policies of former President Barack Obama in the region. In a speech in Cairo, he stated that Trump "made the right decision to bring our Syrian troops home" and that the United States was "determined to completely dismantle the threat posed by the Islamic State and to continue the fight against radical Islamism ".
But Pompeo also sowed confusion over Washington's policy in Syria. In his speech in Cairo, he said that Obama was wrong to withdraw US troops from Iraq.
"When America withdrew, chaos ensues.When we neglect our friends, the resentment accentuates.And when we associate with enemies, they advance," said Pompeo.
Less than 24 hours later, US troops began withdrawing from Syria.
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