U.S. withdraws some military equipment from Syria

Lester Mason
January 11, 2019

After days of back and forth over U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to pullout American troops from Syria, a U.S. military official said Friday the process of withdrawal has begun, declining to comment on specific timetables or movements.

Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by telephone on Sunday and "agreed to ensure coordination between their countries' military, diplomatic and other officials to avoid a power vacuum which could result following any abuse of the withdrawal and transition phase in Syria", the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict in Syria through a network of activists on the ground, said the withdrawal began Thursday night.

It said a convoy of ten armoured vehicles and some trucks had pulled out of Rmeilan, in Syria's north west, into Iraq.

On December 19, Trump said he had ordered the withdrawal of all United States forces in Syria, which are believed to number around 2,000.

He declined to elaborate on the type of military equipment involved or where it was removed from due to "security concerns". "For security reasons, I am not going to provide further details at this time". Ironically, troops that are designated to help with the eventual withdrawal already are in the area, adding more more troops in the vicinity now than before President Donald Trump announced the Syria withdrawal in December.

Mr Pompeo is now on a regional tour to assure Middle East allies of Washington's continued commitment to countering extremists militants in the region and the threat posed by Iran. "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.

The White House has not yet publicly altered it's most recent criteria, those announced by Bolton a week ago: that ISIS must be defeated and the Kurdish forces' security guaranteed before the American troops all come out. "We remain committed to the complete dismantling of ISIS - the ISIS threat - and the ongoing fight against radical Islamism in all of its forms", he said.

Shortly after Trump's announcement, some USA officials began to walk it back. Most of the U.S. troops in Syria are based in the north-east in support of the YPG-led alliance fighting ISIS.

US national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday American troops will not leave northeastern Syria until ISIS is defeated and USA -backed Kurds were protected. Syria's deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday he was optimistic about renewed dialogue with the Kurds.

"Whether they pull out or not, we must do whatever is necessary against an organisation that poses a threat to our national security".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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