US Starts Pulling Troops Out of Syria, Talks With Turkey to Continue

Geneva Stokes
January 14, 2019

Stressing that the US has not yet begun pulling out its troops, a second Pentagon official revealed that the USA military had begun a number of preparations for a deliberate withdrawal, noting, "That includes planning for the moving of people and equipment, preparation of facilities to accept retrograde equipment".

Opponents of the move claim that the pullout will allow Russia, Iran and the Syrian regime to expand their influence in the region.

But in the weeks since he gave the order, and the Pentagon began to implement it, Mr Trump himself and members of his administration have delivered mixed messages about when a troop withdrawal may actually occur.

He added: "For purposes of operational security, we will not discuss specific troop movements or timelines".

That provoked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to snub Trump's national security adviser last week, after John Bolton had received a warm welcome by Israeli officials days before.

Pompeo arrived in Abu Dhabi on Friday as part of his regional tour aimed at reassuring Washington's Middle Eastern allies of its continued commitment to the complete dismantlement of Daesh a href="https://sputniknews.com/us/201812191070826973-us-military-syria/" *withdraw some 2,000 U.S. troops now deployed in the Middle Eastern country.

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He said that Turkey and other countries in the middle East are able to resist the remnants of ISIS in Syria without the support of the American side. The comments drew a rebuke from Erdogan, who slammed them as a "serious mistake".

Pompeo's remarks follow tensions between the U.S. and Turkey over the fate of Washington's allies in the fight against ISIS. The Kurdish groups that control a vast swathe of northern Syria have now turned to Moscow and Damascus in the hope of striking a political deal that will stave off Turkey and shield their autonomy in the north.

Maria Zakharova, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said it was important for Syrian Kurds and the Syrian government to start talking to each other in light of the United States withdrawal plans.

Graham highlighted that Turkey's concern regarding the PKK's Syrian offshoot People's Democratic Units (YPG) elements "must be addressed in a real way to ensure that Turkey's borders are secure and are protected from any threats".

Russian news agency Interfax quoted Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Kremlin's foreign ministry, as saying in Moscow on Friday that it seemed like the United States "is looking for a reason to stay", the Times pointed out.

In a rare acknowledgment that French troops were also in Syria, he said they would leave when there is a political solution in the country.

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