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

1 2018 Turkish and U.S. troops conduct joint patrols around the Syrian town of Manbij as part of an agreement that aimed to ease tensions between the two NATO allies

Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman to USA -led military coalition in Syria, has confirmed that that they had begun the process of withdrawing troops from Syria.

President Donald Trump announced last month the decision to withdraw 2,000 USA troops who have deployed to Syria in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia in the fight against Islamic State.

"Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements", he said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a convoy of about 10 armoured vehicles and some trucks pulled out from the north-eastern town of Rmeilan on Thursday night and crossed the border into Iraq.

The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, which had been moored in Crete, is leading a group of vessels towards the eastern Mediterranean to support the 2,000 U.S. troops as they leave the Kurdish-majority part of northeastern Syria, Pentagon officials told The Wall Street Journal.

"We can see the way statements on the decision to withdraw forces are interpreted in various authoritative structures in the USA and which signals on this issue are coming from representatives of the administration itself", Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told journalists on Wednesday, signaling that officials in Moscow are still attempting to interpret the variety of statements coming out of Washington.

Turkey was a rare ally that lauded Trump's momentous decision on Syria, a country where it will now have a freer rein to target US-allied Kurdish fighters who have played a major role in the war against IS but are deemed terrorists by Ankara.

"We have to wait to see what Mr. Erdogan has to say with Mr. Trump", said Selcen, "because he (Erdogan) himself managed to persuade Mr. Trump that the United States will be leaving Syria".

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Late Sunday, Trump tweeted that Erdogan had assured him that any remaining IS fighters in Syria will be eliminated.

There are 2,000 American troops in Syria. It also led to major criticism that the US was abandoning its local Kurdish allies amid Turkish threats of an imminent attack.

Kurdish officials, meanwhile, have demanded clarifications from the USA over its intentions.

Ankara's anger over preconditions announced by Bolton before any USA withdrawal, including security guarantees for the Kurdish militia, may have brought forward the timing of a strike against the YPG.

There were no other details, and it was not immediately clear how many vehicles or whether any troop units had withdrawn.

Speaking in Egypt Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed the troop pullout from Syria would go ahead as he urged Middle East nations to forge a common stand against Tehran.

After initially tweeting about the decision to bring back USA troops "now", Trump this week said "we will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary!" Once Trump announced his intention, Erdogan said Turkey would delay any operation until all US forces left.

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