An American military official said Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 that the USA -led military coalition has begun the process of withdrawing troops from Syria.
There are some 2,000 USA troops stationed across northeastern Syria.
"[The coalition] has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria".
"Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements", Ryan said in a statement to the AP.
Speaking to Newsweek, a senior Defense Department source pinpointed one area of current withdrawal activity, at a strategic airstrip on Syria's northeastern border with Iraq. But the peace and stability of areas US forces withdraw from "must be guaranteed", she added.
USA forces' vehicles and structures are seen on the outskirts of the northern Syrian town of Manbij on December 26, 2018.
The news that a withdrawal had begun was confirmed on Thursday by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in the United Kingdom, which monitors activity in the war-town country through a network of activists.
A USA military official spoke Friday of the withdrawal process, but declined to comment on specific timetables or movements.
Now, America's allies on the ground are turning to Washington's rivals for protection. That drew a rebuke from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who called his comments "a serious mistake".
Regardless, Damascus and the Kurds are seemingly edging closer towards a deal, with Syrian Army troops arriving in Manbij - a city Ankara has openly threatened to target unless Kurdish forces withdraw - just days after Trump pledged to pull the US' 2,000-strong military contingent out of Syria.
"The Americans have a right to make decisions that are in their country's security and national interests", said Ilham Ahmed, who co-chairs the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Council in northeast Syria.
The president's supporters praised the withdrawal announcement as a delivery of his campaign pledge to pull American forces out of foreign wars.
But after the resignations of Mattis and McGurk and amid a wave of bipartisan criticism in Washington, Trump hinted at a longer timeframe.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Masoud Barzani leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the province's capital Arbil during a Middle East tour, on January 9, 2019. He did, however, yesterday confirm the withdrawal would go ahead as planned. A USA troop pullout leaves the Kurds exposed to Turkish attacks from one side, and Syrian government troops on the other.
Kurdish officials, meanwhile, have demanded clarifications from the US over its intentions.
The Defense Department did not directly address that report.
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