US withdrawal from Syria begins after contradictory messages from John Bolton and Mike Pompeo




 

US troops have begun withdrawing from Syria, compounding weeks of confusion over Donald Trump's policy in the Middle East and raising fears over the fate of America's Kurdish allies.

The US-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) confirmed on Friday that the military had started the "deliberate withdrawal" of the roughly 2,000 American troops in Syria.

The military would not give any detail of the overall timetable for the American withdrawal nor which positions US troops had begun pulling back from.

A convoy of ten US military vehicles was seen leaving a base in Hasakah province in northeast Syria and heading towards the Iraqi border, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Mr Trump abruptly announced the US withdrawal from Syria on December 19, blindsiding US allies and triggering a confrontation within the US administration that led to the resignation of his defence secretary.

Over recent weeks, senior US officials have offered confusing and contradictory accounts of the terms and speed with which the US is leaving.

Mr Trump initially signalled a rapid withdrawal from Syria and US officials said they expected troops to be out with 30 days.

That timeline was then extended to several months in the face of a revolt by national security officials and Mr Trump's own Republican allies.

John Bolton, Mr Trump's national security advisor, then said on Sunday that the US would not leave until it had assurances that Turkey would not assault the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurdish-led group which provided the ground troops to fight Isil.

Mr Bolton's comments invoked a furious response from Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's president, who accused him of making "a grave mistake" by setting conditions for Turkey.

Turkey has threatened to move ahead with the assault against the SDF, who it considers part of a Kurdish terrorist group, regardless of whether the US slows its withdrawal.

Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, has spent the week in the Middle East trying to reassure US allies in the wake of Mr Trump's announcement.

He said the US withdrawal would not be effected by Mr Erdogan's threats against the Kurds but at the same time said the US would work to ensure the Kurds' safety.

"These have been folks that have fought with us and it's important that we do everything we can to ensure that those folks that fought with us are protected," he said.

"Erdogan has made commitments; he understands that - I think he uses the language - he talks about (how) he has no beef with the Kurds."

Russia said Friday that the US withdrawal underscored the need for the Kurds to reconcile with the Syrian regime. Kurdish leaders have seen a deal with Damascus as one possible way of staving off a Turkish attack.

The USS Kearsage, an amphibious assault ship, is moving into the region with hundreds of US Marines and helicopters to help cover the American withdrawal, according to the Wall Street Journal.

It does not appear at this point that the US military has been given a final date for full withdrawal from Syria and the timeline seems to be part of a broader debate about American strategy in the Middle East.

"CJTF-OIR has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria," said a spokesman for the US-led coalition against Isil. "Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements."

COMMENTS

More Related News

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen delaying testimony to Congress
Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen delaying testimony to Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, will not testify before a House committee next month as scheduled, his adviser said Wednesday, depriving Democrats for now of a prime opportunity to scrutinize Trump, his links to Russia and payments to buy the silence of a

No. 3 House Democrat floats possible $5.7 billion in border funding
No. 3 House Democrat floats possible $5.7 billion in border funding

The No. 3 Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday raised the possibility of approving $5.7 billion in funding to secure the U.S. border though various means but not by building a wall. Referring to Republican President Donald Trump's demand for $5.7 billion to build a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, U.S. House Majority Whip James Clyburn told reporters, "We see ourselves fulfilling that request" with a "smart wall." The consideration comes as U.S. lawmakers this week seek to forge a path out of the partial government shutdown as it entered its 33rd day on Wednesday. Trump has said the $5.7 billion would be for the wall in addition to other funds for border...

Supreme Court allows Trump's partial military ban on transgender people in military to take effect
Supreme Court allows Trump's partial military ban on transgender people in military to take effect

The Supreme Court will allow Trump's partial ban on transgender people serving in the military to take effect while court challenges continue.

3 groups, many videos, many interpretations of DC encounter
3 groups, many videos, many interpretations of DC encounter

Dozens of white Catholic high school students visiting Washington for a rally to end abortion. At first the focus was on a short video showing one of the high school students, Nick Sandmann, wearing a red "Make America Great Again" hat and appearing to smirk while a crowd of other teens laughed

Giuliani backtracks on comments Trump sought Moscow deal throughout 2016
Giuliani backtracks on comments Trump sought Moscow deal throughout 2016

Giuliani told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that Trump may have continued to pursue the project and had discussions about it with his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, until as late as October or November 2016, when Trump was closing in on his election victory over Democrat Hillary

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.