Thursday, 24 January, 2019

Military Going Ahead With Syria Withdrawal Plans

Rebel fighters in Syria Turkey Stands By Deal To Buy Russian Missiles, Attack Kurds In Syria
Steven Clarke | 11 January, 2019, 15:36

"Timetables or the timing of the withdrawal occurs as a result of the fulfillment of the conditions and the establishment of the circumstances that we want to see", Bolton said Sunday, which struck a different tone than the December 19 announcement White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders made, in which she said the USA had already begun pulling American troops.

Russia, which has deployed forces into Syria in support of the Damascus government, said on Friday it had the impression that the United States wanted to stay despite the announced withdrawal of US troops, RIA news agency reported.

"Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements", the Baghdad-based official said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.

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

The order to withdraw American troops from Syria had been signed, after President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart agreed to prevent a power vacuum in the wake of the controversial move.

National security adviser John Bolton traveled to Israel and Turkey, where he said he would seek assurances from Turkey that the Kurds would be protected and pledged that the USA would ensure that ISIS is defeated.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been touring the Middle East this week to reassure allies of Washington's commitment to regional security, said on Thursday the withdrawal would not be scuppered despite the Turkish threats.

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Last month, Donald Trump said he had ordered the withdrawal of all USA forces from Syria, where there are believed to be about American 2,000 troops.

The military would not give any detail of the overall timetable for the American withdrawal nor which positions United States troops had begun pulling back from.

The CNN report added that officials it had previously spoken to said the Pentagon wants to signal to the president it is working towards his goals following his withdrawal decision last month. Top U.S. officials were shocked too, among them Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who quit in protest.

The US president concluded: "Our troops are coming home!"

Turkey was a rare ally that lauded Trump's momentous decision on Syria, a country where it will now have a freer rein to target US-allied Kurdish fighters who have played a major role in the war against IS but are deemed terrorists by Ankara.

Giving a subsequent speech about broader US policy in the Middle East at the American University in Cairo, Pompeo said "now is the time" to bring America's forces out of Syria. Turkey views the Kurdish YPG militia, which forms the core of the SDF force, as a national security threat.

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