Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Global | By Craig Ferguson

USA military announces start of troop withdrawal from Syria

USA military announces start of troop withdrawal from Syria

Turkey, however, regards the People's Protection Units (YPG) as a terrorist group and has vowed to crush it.

The surprise move comes amid conflicting statements over when a withdrawal would begin and at what pace since President Donald Trump abruptly announced the US would leave last month.

Talking to reporters in Abu Dhabi, Mr Pompeo said the USA recognised "the Turkish people's right and [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan's right to defend their country from terrorists".

"These have been folks that have fought with us and it's important that we do everything we can to ensure that those folks that fought with us are protected", Pompeo said during his tour of the Middle East this week, according to the AP.

Turkey's foreign minister and his US counterpart spoke over the phone, Turkish diplomatic sources announced on Saturday.

On Sunday, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said American troops would not leave northeastern Syria until ISIS is defeated and the American-allied Kurdish fighters are protected.

He said such statements were "unacceptable". However, he added, "Each of the two parties has its own demands and each of them is attempting to convey them to the other, but no progress regarding these demands has been made so far".

The SDF, a coalition of Kurdish fighters and Arab tribes, controls about 26% of the Syrian territories, mainly in the north and east of the Euphrates River, according to a report published August 1 by the Jusoor for Studies Center in Turkey. The YPG denies any direct organisational links to the PKK.

"We hope for the intensification of the dialogue". He is calling for a united Arab front against what he describes as its destabilising activity and Saudi Arabia is key to that. He said many details around the troop withdrawal still need to be ironed out, but that he was optimistic a "good outcome" could be reached between Turkey and Kurdish groups in Syria.

"We are not withdrawing troops at this stage", an unidentified U.S. defense official said.

"The Syrian leadership must realize we are facing new political realities in light of all these political and geographic changes in Syria after this long war", Darwish insisted.

The U.S. has about 5,200 troops in Iraq to assist its security forces, and Trump has given no indication he intends to withdraw them any time soon.

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What is the USA presence in Syria?

Operation Inherent Resolve, the USA military's term for its intervention in Syria and Iraq, now means "implementing the orderly withdrawal of forces from northeast Syria within a framework coordinated across the U.S. government", Pentagon spokesperson Sean Robertson said on Friday evening.

But shortly after, other witnesses on the ground in Syria reported seeing an influx of Western troops and equipment to parts of Aleppo province in northern Syria.

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