US Has Begun Pulling Equipment, Not Troops From Syria

US Has Begun Pulling Equipment, Not Troops From Syria

The U.S. military has begun the process of withdrawing troops from Syria, a U.S. defense official confirmed to CBS News on Friday, saying it was expected to take between 90 and 120 days.

"Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements", Ryan said in a statement to the Associated Press.

In the past 24 hours, US forces have withdrawn 10 vehicles and 150 personnel from the Rmelan military base, one of the first installations the USA -led coalition established in Syria in 2014, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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

Mr Trump abruptly announced the United States withdrawal from Syria on December 19, blindsiding USA allies and triggering a confrontation within the U.S. administration that led to the resignation of his defence secretary.

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Earlier this week, the USA national security adviser John Bolton said American troops will not leave northeastern Syria until IS is defeated and American-allied Kurdish fighters are protected, signaling a slowdown in Trump's initial order for a rapid withdrawal.

Speaking in Egypt Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed the troop pullout from Syria would go ahead as he urged Middle East nations to forge a common stand against Tehran.

This comes just three-weeks after President Trump announced he is bringing troops home.

Residents near border-crossing points typically used by US forces moving in and out of Syria from Iraq told Reuters they had seen no obvious or large-scale movements following Friday's announcement.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details that have not yet been publicly announced, provided no numbers, but said the equipment withdrawal is under way and that an unspecified number of additional US troops have been brought into Syria to assist with the withdrawal process, including troops to provide additional security. More than 2,000 USA troops are now deployed in Syria. It also led to major criticism that the USA was abandoning its local Kurdish allies amid Turkish threats of an imminent attack.

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"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. The latter will no doubt prove the more hard objective to meet. Turkey views the dominant Syrian Kurdish groups as a national security threat.

The president's supporters praised the withdrawal announcement as a delivery of his campaign pledge to pull American forces out of foreign wars.

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. It also sparked criticisms that the U.S.is pulling out of Syria before ISIS is truly defeated - abandoning America's Kurdish allies in the region, ceding hard-won influence to neighboring Turkey, and rewarding Russia's intervention alongside the Syrian regime. He suggested that the protection of Kurdish allies in the country would be a redline for the withdrawal.

"It's clear that the administration has no real plan", said Sen.

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