U.S. troops begin to withdraw from Syria, report says

U.S. troops begin to withdraw from Syria, report says

The U.S. military has begun the process of withdrawing troops from Syria, a U.S. defense official confirmed to CBS News on Friday, saying it was expected to take between 90 and 120 days.

"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.

"I can confirm the movement of equipment from Syria", the official told Agence France-Presse.

"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.

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

Even as administration officials continue to insist the U.S. will leave Syria, they are indicating - in part by adding conditions for withdrawal without timelines - that the American presence will continue far longer than the President's initial pledge of departure "now" or even by the 120-day deadline the White House offered later.

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Confirmation of the first withdrawals comes amid confusion over plans to implement Trump's pullout order and threats from Turkey to attack the Kurds, who have been America's partners on the ground in the war against the Islamic State group in Syria. It also led to major criticism that the US was abandoning its local Kurdish allies amid Turkish threats of an imminent attack. Ironically, troops that are designated to help with the eventual withdrawal already are in the area, adding more more troops in the vicinity now than before President Donald Trump announced the Syria withdrawal in December.

Shortly after Trump's announcement, some us officials began to walk it back.

But the Baghdad-based official did not give details and it is unclear how many vehicles or troop units had been withdrawn. Turkey views the dominant Syrian Kurdish groups as a national security threat.

The decision has injected new uncertainties into the eight-year long Syrian war and a flurry of contacts over how a resulting security vacuum will be filled across a swathe of northern and eastern Syria where the US forces are stationed.

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.

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