US Military Begins to Withdraw Equipment from Syria

Minnie Murray
January 14, 2019

The US military has started moving non-essential equipment out of Syria, but it is not withdrawing troops for now, a defence official said Friday as the Pentagon sought to clarify an earlier statement.

We will remind, the United States announced the withdrawal of American troops from Syria. These include troops to provide additional security.

Late Friday, Pentagon spokesman Cmdr Sean Robertson said that Operation Inherent Resolve "is implementing the orderly withdrawal of forces from northeast Syria within a framework coordinated across the United States government". But the peace and stability of areas USA forces withdraw from "must be guaranteed", she added. USA support for a Syrian-led Kurdish militia known as the People's Protection Units that Turkey considers a foe is the source of one rift.

Troops may not be coming home from Syria yet, but some equipment is.

Russia, which has deployed forces into Syria in support of the Damascus regime, said it had the impression that the United States wanted to stay despite the announced withdrawal of USA troops, RIA news agency reported. Trump's abrupt decision in December to pull them out, declaring in a tweet the defeat of IS, sent shockwaves across the region and a flurry of criticism from some of his generals and national security advisers, and led to the resignation of U.S. Defense Minister James Mattis and the top U.S. envoy to the anti-IS coalition. Many are also anxious that the Kurdish forces, which spearheaded the fight against the "Islamic State" militants with USA backing, would be left vulnerable to an imminent attack by Turkey.

In fact, Pompeo went further, and in his address from the American University in Cairo on Thursday, said the United States would make very sure the Islamic State terrorist group was defeated, and that "every last Iranian boot" was out of Syria before leaving the area.

Trump also refused to directly answer a question about the timeline of the USA withdrawal from Syria, saying only that it will happen "over a period of time".

The People's Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian offshoot of the PKK group which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, has already started cosying up to Damascus and its Russian sponsor.

Since Trump's announcement, senior members of his administration including Bolton and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo have frustrated Turkey by setting more specific conditions on what Trump initially suggested would be a quick withdrawal.

"I can not share your confidence that they are leaving there because we never saw an official strategy", she added.

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