The Latest: Syrian state TV reports air attack near Damascus




 

BAGHDAD (AP) - The latest on Syria and U.S. military pullout (all times local):

12:55 a.m.

Syrian state media are reporting that air defense units have responded to "hostile targets" near the capital of Damascus.

State TV said in its Friday night report that explosions were clearly heard in Damascus.

It was not immediately clear if the attack was carried out by Israeli warplanes, which last struck targets in Syria on Christmas Day. In that incident, Israeli aircraft flying over Lebanon fired missiles toward areas near Damascus, hitting an arms depot and wounding three soldiers.

Israeli drones and warplanes were heard flying Friday afternoon over Lebanon.

Israel is widely believed to have been behind a series of airstrikes in Syria that have mainly targeted Iranian and Hezbollah forces fighting alongside the Syrian government.

___

6:15 p.m.

A U.S. defense official says no American troops have withdrawn yet from Syria, but some military cargo has been pulled out.

The official said the movement of equipment is part of what the military calls the start of a "deliberate withdrawal" from Syria, where about 2,000 troops have been working with a coalition of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters to defeat the remnants of the Islamic State group.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details that have not yet been publicly announced.

The official provided no numbers, but said the equipment withdrawal is underway and that an unspecified number of additional U.S. troops have been brought into Syria to assist with the withdrawal process. These include troops to provide additional security.

- Robert Burns in Washington.

___

4:55 p.m.

A senior Kurdish politician says the Kurds are aware of the U.S. beginning to withdraw from Syria, describing it as "America's decision."

Ilham Ahmed, who co-chairs the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Council in northeast Syria, said the Americans have a right to make decisions that are in their country's security and national interests.

However, she adds that safeguarding the peace and stability of the areas they withdraw from "must be guaranteed." This includes putting an end to Turkish threats and fully eradicating the Islamic State group and its sleeper cells, she said.

Ahmed spoke to The Associated Press Friday hours after an American official said the process of withdrawing American equipment from Syria has begun.

___

1:25 p.m.

Russia's Foreign Ministry says the Americans are not serious about withdrawing from Syria.

Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters on Friday that it appears to Moscow that the U.S. "is looking for a reason to stay."

Zakharova said Moscow has not seen public statements laying out the U.S. strategy in Syria and so cannot be sure that the U.S. is serious about leaving.

Zakharova's remarks appeared shortly after an American official said that the U.S.-led military coalition has begun the process of withdrawing equipment from Syria.

___

12:30 p.m.

An American military official says the U.S.-led military coalition has begun the process of withdrawing from Syria.

Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman for the U.S.-coalition fighting the Islamic State group, says the U.S. started "the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria."

In a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Friday, he declined to discuss specific timelines or locations or troops movements out of concern for operational security.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict in Syria through a network of activists on the ground, said the withdrawal began Thursday night. It said a convoy of about 10 armored vehicles, in addition to some trucks, pulled out from Syria's northeastern town of Rmeilan into Iraq.

The U.S. has around 2,000 troops in Syria.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Italian killed fighting IS in Syria: Kurdish-led force
Italian killed fighting IS in Syria: Kurdish-led force

An Italian fighting alongside a Kurdish-led force to expel the Islamic State group from its last pocket of territory in eastern Syria has been killed, the force said Tuesday. Lorenzo Orsetti, 33, was killed in battle on Sunday as he fought diehard jihadists in the village of Baghouz, a spokesman for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said. "Two days ago... he was at the forefront of the fighting and he died in battle," Mustefa Bali told AFP.

U.S.-backed forces capture Syria suspects tied to American deaths: sources
U.S.-backed forces capture Syria suspects tied to American deaths: sources

The bombing killed Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan Farmer, Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician Shannon Kent and Scott Wirtz from the Defense Intelligence Agency. It also killed Ghadir Taher, a naturalized U.S. citizen working as a civilian interpreter for a U.S. contractor. "The investigation is ongoing as are efforts to bring all of those terrorists responsible to justice." The attack was the worst single incident involving U.S. personnel in Syria since they deployed on the ground there in 2015 and took place at a cafe in the town of Manbij, which was controlled by a militia allied to U.S.-backed Kurdish forces.

Iran demands U.S. leave Syria, Damascus threatens its ally
Iran demands U.S. leave Syria, Damascus threatens its ally

Iran and Syria on Monday demanded the United States withdraw its troops from Syria, and the Damascus government threatened to defeat Washington's Kurdish allies by force if they did not submit to the return of state authority. The Iranian and Syrian military chiefs were speaking after a meeting in Damascus that also included their Iraqi counterpart, who gave a political boost to President Bashar al-Assad and Tehran by announcing the Syrian border would soon be reopened.

Syria
Syria's defense minister slams 'illegitimate' US presence

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - Syria's defense minister on Monday slammed what he called the "illegitimate" U.S. military presence in his country, vowing that Damascus has a right to self-defense, while Iraq said a border crossing with Syria will open in the coming days.

Syria army vows to retake control of Kurdish areas
Syria army vows to retake control of Kurdish areas

Syrian government forces will reclaim control of northeastern areas controlled by the US-backed Kurds, whether by force or through reconciliation, the defence minister warned Monday. Marginalised for decades, Syria's minority Kurds have carved out a de-facto autonomous region across some 30 percent of the nation's territory since the devastating war broke out in 2011. Backed by a US-led coalition, Kurdish forces have spearheaded an offensive in Syria against the Islamic State group.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.