Saturday, 19 January, 2019

‘We Don’t Take Orders From Bolton’: Pentagon Plans Syria Withdrawal

‘We Don’t Take Orders From Bolton’: Pentagon Plans Syria Withdrawal US troops begin to withdraw from Syria, report says
Patty Aguilar | 14 January, 2019, 01:30

President Donald Trump claimed in December that U.S. troops had defeated the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and would now return home.

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 US-led coalition battling ISIS added to confusion surrounding the US withdrawal from Syria on Friday by saying it had started the pullout process, but officials later clarified that only equipment, not troops, were being withdrawn.

"Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements", the statement added.

A Defense Department spokesperson later said that while equipment was being moved out of Syria, troops were not withdrawing.

"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 US-backed Syrian Democratic Council in northeastern Syria. These include troops to provide additional security. 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.

"This is the first such pullout of American forces since the United States president's announcement" of a full troop withdrawal from Syria last month, he said. -Turkish consultations as part of the "deliberate and coordinated" withdrawal of American forces from Syria.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis had resigned immediately after Trump's claim in December that the Islamic State group had been defeated.

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19 announcement that he was moving to disentangle US troops from Syria's complex battlefield sparked fears that the move might undo efforts to defeat the Islamic State's final remnant in Syria.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he's hopeful an agreement can be reached with Ankara to protect Kurdish troops, as American forces prepare to leave.

He added Pompeo also stressed the importance that the USA places on the protection of forces, namely PYD/YPG, the Syrian offshoot of PKK terror organization.

Pompeo's remarks follow tensions between the USA and Turkey over the fate of Washington's allies in the fight against ISIS.

Pompeo said on Friday that Washington recognised "the Turkish people's right and (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan's right to defend their country from terrorists".

Turkey already occupies and effectively runs local affairs in vast territories in northwestern Syria, including Afrin which came under an intense Turkish military campaign previous year that resulted in thousands of deaths and displacement of some 160,000 locals as Erdogan promised to give the region back to the "rightful owners, Arabs".

Turkey insists its military actions are aimed at Kurdish fighters in Syria - the Syrian Kurdish Peoples Protection Units, or YPG - whom it regards as terrorists, and not against the Kurdish people.

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