US Military Announces Start of Syria Pullout

US Military Announces Start of Syria Pullout

The announcement comes a day after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said a military operation in northern Syria against the Kurdish YPG militia, which is allied with the USA, is not dependent on the withdrawal of American forces.

Turkey's planned military operation against a Kurdish militia in Syria does not depend on an American withdrawal from the region, Ankara said on Thursday.

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".

Turkey and the United States, although North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, are deeply divided over the implementation of President Donald Trump's plan to bring home about 2,000 troops stationed in Syria.

It is not known exactly what type of equipment has been removed.

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. "Iran is pulling people out of Syria, but they can frankly do whatever they want there", the US president said.

The surprise announcement came in a statement from Col. Sean Ryan, the spokesman for the United States-led coalition against the Islamic State.

Fighter jets and special forces have played a key role in efforts to claw back the territory lost to ISIS.

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"Before us we have Manbij on one side and the east of the Euphrates on the other", Akar said, underscoring the scale of a potential operation.

A Kurdish-led group, the Syrian Democratic Forces, is now flushing the jihadists from the last pockets of land they control in the Euphrates River Valley.

The official also would not say what part of Syria the equipment was in, although it's widely expected the drawdown will begin in northern Syria.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist movement and has repeatedly threatened to move into Syria to create a buffer zone along the border.

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".

They have also argued that it would further allow Damascus ally Iran to extend its influence across Syria and potentially threaten Israel.

"The damage is done", said Fabrice Balanche, a geographer and Syria expert.

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