US-led coalition begins troop pullout from Syria: Official

 

US-led coalition begins troop  pullout from Syria: Official

Hasakeh (Syria) - It remained unclear how long the drawdown process would last.

By AFP

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Published: Fri 11 Jan 2019, 8:39 PM

Last updated: Fri 11 Jan 2019, 10:46 PM

The US-led coalition in Syria has begun withdrawing its troops, a spokesman said on Friday, less than a month after US President Donald Trump made his shock announcement.
The force which has battled the Daesh group since 2014 started scaling down but it remained unclear how long the drawdown process would last.
"CJTF-OIR has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria," spokesman Colonel Sean Ryan said in a statement, referring to the US-led anti-militant force.
"Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements," he said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the coalition had started scaling down its presence at Rmeilan airfield in the Hasakeh province in northeastern Syria.
"On Thursday, some American forces withdrew from the Rmeilan military base," Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based monitoring organisation, said.
He put the number of US forces who left at 150 and added that around 10 armoured vehicles and some heavy equipment was also removed from Rmeilan.
"This is the first such pullout of American forces since the US president's announcement" of a military withdrawal from Syria last month, he said.
The US-led coalition has several other bases across northeastern Syria, as well as in Iraq, where Trump has said his forces would remain.
A US defence official in Washington had earlier confirmed that equipment was being removed from Syria. The US-led coalition, which also includes countries such as France and Britain, was formed in mid-2014 to counter the expansion of the Daesh group.
Trump claimed last month that the militants had been defeated and that US troops could therefore come home. Fighter jets and special forces have played a key role in efforts to claw back the territory lost to Daesh.
A Kurdish-led group, the Syrian Democratic Forces, is currently flushing out the very last pockets of land controlled by the militants in the Euphrates River Valley.
The beginning of the drawdown coincided with a visit to the Middle East by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who insisted in Cairo on Thursday that the withdrawal would go ahead despite widespread criticism.


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