U.S. Has 'Begun The Process' Of Withdrawing From Syria, Pentagon Says

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The U.S. force in Syria has "begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria", said Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman for the for Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve. He said the USA will not discuss a specific timeline, locations or troop movements out of concern for operational security.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which uses a network of frontline activists to monitor the Syrian civil war, reported that roughly 10 US armored vehicles and several trucks pulled out of the northeastern Syria town of Rmelan on Thursday night and crossed into Iraq. It says about 10 armored vehicles and other equipment arrived at a US base in al-Rmelan, in al-Hasaka province. Within the Trump administration, disagreement over the pullout quickly led to the resignations of both Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Brett McGurk, the president's special envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS.

Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser John Bolton on Sunday outlined conditions for US troop departure from Syria, including a provision that Turkey should guarantee the safety of YPG Kurdish militants in Syria.

The statement coming a day after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Cairo defended the withdrawal, insisting it was not a retreat.

American troops sent to help with the pullout are reportedly already in the region, specifically in Kuwait and the al-Asad air base in Iraq.

"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", Pompeo said of the Kurds while visiting Erbil, the capital of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, after talks in Baghdad.

On Friday, Bolton said that the militaries of the USA and Turkey are set to continue negotiating on the Kurdish issue.

Syrian government delegates have been engaging in talks with Kurdish leaders over the course of the multi-year war, and Washington's pull-out could encourage the Kurds to finally agree to a compromise with Damascus, as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) would be vulnerable to a Turkish assault in northern Syria following a U.S. withdrawal.

The coalition "has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria".

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".

Ahmed spoke to The Associated Press Friday hours after an American official said the process of withdrawing American equipment from Syria has begun.

On Thursday, Turkey said it would launch an offensive against the YPG even if the U.S. delayed the withdrawal of its troops. He spoke before the announcement on the US withdrawal and did not address it.

This comes just three-weeks after President Trump announced he is bringing troops home.

It's complicated: On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. ground troops and naval vessels are moving toward Syria to assist with the withdrawal, defying Bolton.

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