United States pullout from Syria begins amid confusion over Pentagon timetable

Blanche Robertson
January 13, 2019

Russia's foreign ministry said Friday that it suspected the USA government was really intent on maintaining a military force inside Syria indefinitely, in spite of the pullout officially being announced by the Americans.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced via Twitter on December 19 that all U.S. troops in Syria would come home. The national security adviser pledged during a visit to Israel this week that the United States would still achieve the objectives articulated before Trump announced the pullout.

He said military preparations were ongoing.

The AP, citing a USA defense official, also reported that the pullout thus far has involved only equipment and not the estimated 2,000 US troops believed to be in Syria.

"We are not withdrawing troops at this stage", one U.S. defense official said. He said the administration made a decision to go ahead with the withdrawal despite the military's concerns.

He said this would breach UN Security Council Resolution 2231, and the "whole world needs to come together to oppose that".

The U.K. -based Syrian Observatory for Human rights reported that about 10 armored vehicles had been witnessed leaving a military base in the town of Rmelan, in Syria's northeastern province of Hasakah on Thursday.

But the first defense official said this was merely part of a regular troop movement.

The coalition, which also includes countries such as France and Britain, was formed in mid-2014 to counter IS, which had seized swathes of Iraq and Syria and proclaimed a "caliphate".

A Kurdish-led group, the Syrian Democratic Forces, is now flushing the jihadists from the very last pockets of land they control in the Euphrates River Valley.

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Constitution to control government spending - and make it easier for a future Democratic president to bypass Capitol Hill. The person was unauthorized to discuss private sessions and spoke on condition of anonymity.

"We are confident we can achieve an outcome that achieves both of those", Pompeo told journalists in Abu Dhabi.

On the same day however, Pompeo said in a speech that "when America retreats, chaos often follows". It has vowed to increase the pressure until Iran halts what United States officials describe as its "malign activities" throughout the Mideast and elsewhere, including support for rebels in Yemen, anti-Israel groups, and Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"We have Manbij, and the east of Euphrates ahead", Akar said, echoing threats going back months from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials to mount an operation in Syria against the YPG.

Kurdish People's Protection Units, as a terrorist group linked to the Kurdistan Worker's Party which has fought a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

A female healthcare worker who was kidnapped by the PKK terrorist group in June 2013 and was taken to several places including Syria where she received medical education from foreigners revealed the awful conditions women face in the terror group's camps after surrendering to Turkish security forces.

The group has already started reaching out to Damascus and its Russian sponsor.

"If the [withdrawal] is put off with ridiculous excuses like Turks are massacring Kurds, which do not reflect reality, we will implement this decision", Cavusoglu said, noting: "We will decide on its timing and we will not receive permission from anyone".

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also lashed out at the anti-Iran conference, describing it as a "desperate circus" that will disgrace the participants.

Since his surprise announcement last month, Trump has stressed any withdrawal would be coordinated, gradual and "prudent". He said it would take 35,000 to 40,000 local forces in northeastern Syria to maintain security, but only about 20 per cent had been trained.

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