Syria troop withdrawal under way, says US-led coalition

Bolton contradicts Trump on Syria withdrawal

Top diplomats in Russian Federation say that they don't believe the Trump administration will pull its troops out of Syria as President Donald Trump said they would, a top official said Wednesday, arguing that advocates of maintaining USA troops in Syria have a lot of power in Washington.

Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman for the coalition fighting the Islamic State group, said the USA started "the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria".

"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.

"On Thursday, some American forces withdrew from the Rmeilan military base in Hasakeh province", said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based monitoring organisation.

The U.S. announcement that Mr. Trump's ordered withdrawal is underway might be enough to convince Turkey to hold fire against America's Kurdish battleground allies, for a while, but Erdogan still wants to go after them, and he could make good on his threats - even on a small scale - at any time.

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Recent reports have indicated the United States is considering leaving some troops in place at the al-Tanf base in southern Syria, which is seen as a key bulwark against Iran.

The US withdrawal from Syria has officially begun, a military official has said.

A senior Kurdish politician said the Kurds are aware of the USA beginning its withdraw process, describing it as "America's decision".

They also did not say what part of Syria it came from, though it is expected the drawdown would begin in the country's north.

Late Sunday, Trump tweeted that Erdogan had assured him that any remaining IS fighters in Syria will be eliminated.

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While the USA military pullout is now officially underway it has made a slow start. Turkey views the Kurdish YPG militia, which forms the core of the SDF force, as a national security threat. It also led to major criticism that the USA was abandoning its local Kurdish allies amid Turkish threats of an imminent attack.

But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday the withdrawal would not be scuppered despite the Turkish threats.

But the Baghdad-based official did not give details and it is unclear how many vehicles or troop units had been withdrawn.

Earlier this week, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton's calls for the protection of the YPG Syrian Kurdish militia as a pre-condition to a U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria angered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, causing the president to refuse to meet with the U.S. official. "No different from my original statements, we will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary!".

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.

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White said she did not intend to release further details because she was anxious about the complexity of her son's case in Iran. She is anxious about her 46-year-old son's health because he has had cancer and suffers from asthma, she said.


Shortly after Trump's announcement, some US officials began to walk it back.

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