United States official says withdrawal from Syria has started

Evarado Alatorre
Enero 11, 2019

While Mr Trump's tweets announcing his decision declared that ISIS had been defeated and suggested the withdrawal would begin immediately, the president later clarified that it would be done gradually after facing resistance from his security officials and the Pentagon.

"I think that the supporters of preserving the U.S.'s illegal military presence in Syria have rather strong positions in Washington.... I wish I were wrong", Rybakov continued in response to a question from Russian state media.

Kurdish officials, meanwhile, have demanded clarifications from the USA over its intentions. But determining what the USA plan for withdrawing from Syria is has become a complicated task for many.

However, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the Turkish offensive would go ahead whether U.S. troops were in the area or not.

President Donald Trump confirmed a Syria withdrawal Sunday, but shifted slightly on the timing, saying "we won't be finally pulled out until [the Islamic State] is gone".

"CJTF-OIR has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria", spokesman Colonel Sean Ryan said in a statement, using the acronym for the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve.

On the one hand, Turkey aims to pursue a campaign against Kurdish forces that have partnered with the United States, and on the other the Russia- and Iran-backed Syrian government sees the chance to recover a huge chunk of territory.

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The first withdrawals come amid confusion over plans to implement President Donald Trump's pullout order and threats from Turkey to attack the Kurds, who are us allies in the fighting against ISIS.

Trump's shock announcement on December 19 that he was withdrawing all 2,000 American troops from the conflict-wracked Middle Eastern country concerned allies and prompted the resignation of his then defense chief Jim Mattis.

Turkey views the USA -backed YPG Syrian Kurdish militia as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a 34-year insurgency in Turkey for Kurdish political and cultural rights, mostly in southeastern areas near Syria.

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. It also led to major criticism that the USA was abandoning its local Kurdish allies amid Turkish threats of an imminent attack.

Shortly after Trump's announcement, some USA officials began to walk it back.

The fate of US 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.

But the Journal reported the Pentagon execution order directing the withdrawal could be modified as details of the withdrawal plan are sorted out, noting the existing order did not include a date for the troops' exit.

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