Turkey Stands By Deal To Buy Russian Missiles, Attack Kurds In Syria
12 January, 2019, 04:15
President Donald Trump last month unexpectedly announced a U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria, with USA military spokesman Colonel Sean Ryan announcing Friday that the pullout had begun.
An announcement Friday that the US troop withdrawal from Syria has begun came amid a precautionary buildup of USA forces in the region and renewed threats from Turkey about attacking the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF.
In a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Friday, he declined to discuss specific timelines or locations or troops movements out of concern for operational security.
In the past 24 hours, US forces have withdrawn 10 vehicles and 150 personnel from the Rmelan military base, one of the first installations the USA -led coalition established in Syria in 2014, according to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 about 10 armoured vehicles, in addition to some trucks, pulled out from Syria's northeastern town of Rmeilan into Iraq.
It was announced that the 2,000 troops in Syria would be withdrawn over the course of 60 to 100 days, but officials including US national security adviser John Bolton have said the US States will not leave until IS is defeated.
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.
A US defense official says no American troops have withdrawn yet from Syria, but some military cargo has been pulled out.
Russia's Foreign Ministry says the Americans are not serious about withdrawing from Syria.
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"The Americans have a right to make decisions that are in their country's security and national interests", said Ilham Ahmed, who co-chairs the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Council in northeast Syria.
The Pentagon is pushing ahead with plans to withdraw USA forces from Syria even as the Trump administration sends mixed signals about how quickly the drawdown is supposed to happen-or if it will even occur at all.
The U.S. military has a limited network of bases inside Syria. Turkey considers the YPG to be part of the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers Party, a separatist group in eastern Turkey which has been labeled a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union.
Trump has asserted that the IS group in Syria is defeated, but others have said a continued USA military presence is necessary to prevent a resurgence of the group.
This comes just three-weeks after President Trump announced he is bringing troops home.
The reference was to Bolton's remarks this week the United States would not exit Syria until Turkey promised not to target U.S. Kurdish partners.
Media reports on Thursday said a draft paper outlining U.S. plans for withdrawing from Syria included leaving troops in place at a position near the Iraqi and Jordanian border.
"We believe it is important that the territories that will be vacated after the Americans leave will come under the control of the Government of Syria", she added.
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