Syria troop withdrawal under way, says US-led coalition

11 Janvier, 2019, 14:36 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • 1 2018 Turkish and U.S. troops conduct joint patrols around the Syrian town of Manbij as part of an agreement that aimed to ease tensions between the two NATO allies

The U.S. has started withdrawing military equipment from Syria, an official from the Pentagon confirmed Thursday.

In December, President Donald Trump announced plans to withdraw all 2,000 USA troops from Syria, claiming that American forces had defeated Daesh there. Top U.S. officials were shocked too, among them Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who quit in protest.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday there is "no contradiction whatsoever" in the administration's Syria strategy, the Journal reported, declaring the withdrawal will take place.

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

National Security Advisor John Bolton appeared to contradict the White House Sunday when he said the USA withdrawal from Syria would not be immediate, but the Pentagon announced Thursday that without receiving any new direction, it's moving forward with the mission.

The decision has injected new uncertainties into the eight-year long Syrian war and a flurry of contacts over how a resulting security vacuum will be filled across a swathe of northern and eastern Syria where the US forces are stationed.

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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.

The fate of USA troops in Syria was further muddled Tuesday when Turkish President Recep Erdogan said Bolton made a "grave mistake" when he demanded Turkey pledge protection of the American supported Kurdish fighters.

A top Kurdish politician told Reuters last week the Kurds had presented Moscow with a road-map for a deal with Damascus.

There are 2,000 American troops in Syria.

"It is not possible for us to swallow the message Bolton gave from Israel", Erdogan said in the Turkish Parliament after refusing to meet with Bolton on his visit to Turkey.

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