USA starts withdrawing supplies, but not troops, from Syria

The top USA diplomat said he was "optimistic" that Kurds who fought alongside US forces against the Islamic State group in Syria are not threatened by pledges from Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to launch military operations against what he terms Kurdish "terrorists".

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

Hours earlier, Colonel Sean Ryan, spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, said "the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria" has started. "Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troop movements".

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.

United States officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that equipment was being moved out of Syria, a sign that despite mixed messages from Washington preparations for a withdrawal of troops was proceeding apace.

"We had this conversation, many details still to be worked out but I am optimistic we can achieve a good outcome", Pompeo said of his call with Cavusoglu from Abu Dhabi, where he was on the fourth leg of a nine-nation Mideast trip. However, Ankara asked for more time and for postponing the start of joint patrols in Idlib due to its inability to provide security guarantees.

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However, after talks with US President Donald Trump, who informed the Turkish counterpart of the US troops withdrawal from Syria, Erdogan shelved its plans, saying that the offensive would be launched only after the complete pullout of the US forces. In public statements, he had repeatedly suggested that he wanted to bring American troops back home.

In an interview on Sunday, Pompeo described the removal as a "tactical change" and reasserted USA efforts remain the same.

It was announced that the 2,000 troops in Syria would be withdrawn over the course of 60 to 100 days, but officials including US national security adviser John Bolton have said the US States will not leave until IS is defeated.

"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 during his tour of the Middle East this week, according to the AP. The two sides are trying to reach agreement about Kurdish fighters allied with the United States against Islamic State forces in Syria. Ankara views U.S. Kurdish allies the YPG in Syria as one and the same with the PKK, a group that has waged a 34-year insurgency against Turkey.

As part of the influx, they described seeing "a column of about 150 vehicles carrying armored vehicles, military, and logistical equipment", the observatory said.

But Bolton said Friday during a radio interview that talks are ongoing between the US military and Turkey regarding the Kurdish forces that have battled IS.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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