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

Pauline Gross
January 11, 2019

The US-led military coalition in Syria has begun withdrawing troops, a spokesman has said, without elaborating on locations or timetables.

"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.

The official, who asked not to be named, told Anadolu Agency the removal of "some of the equipment" had begun.

A convoy of ten United States 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.

"The execute order for Syria has been signed", a U.S. military spokesperson told AFP when asked about the withdrawal order, without providing further details.

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.

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President Donald Trump confirmed a Syria withdrawal Sunday, but shifted slightly on the timing, saying "we won't be finally pulled out until [the Islamic State] is gone".

A U.S. defence official said on Thursday that the military had removed some equipment from Syria. "For security reasons, I am not going to provide further details at this time".

Trump's shock announcement on December 19 that he was withdrawing all 2,000 American troops from the conflict-wracked Middle Eastern country concerned allies and prompted the resignation of his then defense chief Jim Mattis.

Mr Pompeo is now on a regional tour to assure Middle East allies of Washington's continued commitment to countering extremists militants in the region and the threat posed by Iran. "We remain committed to the complete dismantling of ISIS - the ISIS threat - and the ongoing fight against radical Islamism in all of its forms", he said.

Giving a subsequent speech about broader US policy in the Middle East at the American University in Cairo, Pompeo said "now is the time" to bring America's forces out of Syria.

US national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday American troops will not leave northeastern Syria until ISIS is defeated and USA -backed Kurds were protected. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. On Thursday, Turkey's foreign minister said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had already made the decision to launch an offensive against the Kurds in northern Syria, and that it would go ahead regardless of the presence of American forces.

Other reports by GizPress

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