United States begins pulling gear from Syria, but not yet troops
United States begins pulling gear from Syria, but not yet troops
Donald Trump announced last month that 2,000 US troops would be withdrawn
14 January, 2019, 03:27
Speaking in Abu Dhabi, Mr Pompeo said the U.S. recognised "the Turkish people's right and Mr Erdogan's right to defend their country from terrorists".
Erdogan refused to meet with Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton, who was visiting Ankara.
After days of conflicting statements about a timeline for President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw American forces from Syria, a U.S. defence official says the process has begun with the removal of some military cargo.
Washington, however, considers the group as an effective force in the fight against IS.
Mr Trump's comments on Sunday followed further criticism of his abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria. It says about 10 armored vehicles and other equipment arrived at a USA base in al-Rmelan, in al-Hasaka province.
The U.S. military said Friday it has begun withdrawing troops from Syria, initiating a drawdown that has blindsided allies and sparked a scramble for control of the areas that American troops will leave.
His top diplomat Mike Pompeo is on a whirlwind regional tour aimed at reassuring allies amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Turkey over the fate of Washington'sSyrian Kurdish allies in the fight against the Islamic State group.
Uncertainty over the timing and terms of the Syria pullout have raised questions about the Trump administration's broader strategy for fighting Islamic extremism, including Trump's stated intention to reduce USA forces in Afghanistan this summer.
Later, a US defence official said no American troops have withdrawn yet from Syria, but some military cargo has been pulled out.
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The phone call came during Pompeo's nine-nation tour of the Middle East, which is aimed at reassuring allies following U.S. President Donald Trump's withdrawal decision from Syria.
Hours earlier, Colonel Sean Ryan, spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, said "the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria" has started.
Turkey dismissed that condition, and Pompeo said the withdrawal would continue.
"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 of the Kurds while visiting Erbil, the capital of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, after talks in Baghdad.
In tweets, Trump claimed that "Russia, Iran and Syria have been the biggest beneficiaries of the long term USA policy of destroying ISIS in Syria".
The United States' withdrawal from Syria is getting under way but, at least for now, it does not involve some 2,000 USA troops on the ground, who are aiding in the fight against the Islamic State terror group.
But Erdogan made clear this week that he would not agree to those terms and lashed out at Trump's aide, saying "It is not possible for us to swallow the message Bolton gave". Ankara views U.S. Kurdish allies the YPG in Syria as one and the same with the PKK, a group that has waged a 34-year insurgency against Turkey.
Mr Pompeo said yesterday that the speech had not taken aim at individuals but rather the ideas of the previous administration, adding that the Obama-era policies opened the way for Islamic State and the spread of Iran's influence in the region. But in coming weeks, the contingent of about 2,000 American troops is expected to depart even as the White House says it will keep up the pressure on ISIS.
Media captionIs this the Islamic State group's last stand in Syria?
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Led coalition says Syria withdrawal has begun
The reference was to Bolton's remarks this week the United States would not exit Syria until Turkey promised not to target U.S. A US defense official says no American troops have withdrawn yet from Syria, but some military cargo has been pulled out.
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