U.S. BEGINS SYRIA WITHDRAWAL. WORLD BRIEFS
After days of conflicting statements about a timeline for President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American forces from Syria, a U.S. defence official said Friday the process has begun with the removal of some equipment.
The official said it’s part of what the military calls a “deliberate withdrawal” from Syria, where some 2,000 troops have been working with a coalition of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters to defeat the remnants of the Islamic State group.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, provided no numbers, but said the equipment withdrawal is underway and that an unspecified number of additional U.S. troops have been brought into Syria to assist. There has been confusion over plans to implement Trump’s pullout order and threats from Turkey to attack the Kurdish fighters, who Ankara views as terrorists because of their ties to insurgents within Turkey. Earlier this week, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said American troops will not leave northeastern Syria until ISIL is defeated and American-allied Kurdish fighters are protected, signalling a slowdown in Trump’s initial order for a rapid withdrawal.
A senior Kurdish politician said the Kurds are aware of the U.S. beginning the withdrawal, describing it as “America’s decision.”