Led coalition says it has started pulling out of Syria

Turkish president slams US over mixed message

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

The US-led coalition against Islamic State has begun the process of withdrawing from Syria, its spokesman said on Friday, affirming the start of a pullout that has been clouded by mixed messages from US officials. The official told CBS News senior national security correspondent David Martin that equipment had begun moving out earlier this week.

"On Thursday, some American forces withdrew from the Rmeilan military base in Hassakeh province", said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based war monitor, which relies on reports from activists on the ground.

USA 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 announcement that USA troops would leave the civil war-racked country - where they have been deployed to assist in the multinational fight against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group - shocked global partners and American politicians alike.

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.

Mr Trump abruptly announced the USA withdrawal from Syria on December 19, blindsiding United States allies and triggering a confrontation within the U.S. administration that led to the resignation of his defence secretary. Analysts argued it would be wrong for Trump to abandon USA allies the Kurds, who have been instrumental in fighting ISIS, because Turkey would likely launch an attack against them.

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But the Baghdad-based official did not give details and it is unclear how many vehicles or troop units had been withdrawn. Top U.S. officials were shocked too, among them Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who quit in protest.

The US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said the move had "dangerous implications" for stability, would "negatively affect the campaign against terrorism" and create "a political and military vacuum". Syria's deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday he was optimistic about renewed dialogue with the Kurds.

On Sunday, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said American troops will not leave northeastern Syria until IS is defeated and American-allied Kurdish fighters are protected, signaling a slow-down in Trump's initial order for a rapid withdrawal.

Syrian Kurds demonstrate against threats from Turkey to carry out a fresh offensive following the USA decision to withdraw their troops in the Syrian Kurdish-majority city Qamishli, on December 28, 2018.

Shortly after Trump's announcement, some US officials began to walk it back. If not, the Trump administration would be accused of abandoning an ally to a grim fate.

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