Equipment, not troops being moved out of Syria: Pentagon

US pullout from Syria begins amid confusion over Pentagon timetable

An American military official said Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 that the US -led military coalition has begun the process of withdrawing troops from Syria.

The delay has restricted Turkey's ability to launch an offensive against the YPG, a group of Kurdish fighters it considers terrorists, but who served as allies to the USA coalition to defeat Islamic State.

The withdrawal of troops from Syria is only a "tactical change" that will not alter US capacity to perform necessary military actions, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo said on Saturday.

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. It says about 10 armored vehicles and other equipment arrived at a US base in al-Rmelan, in al-Hasaka province.

News of the first steps of a withdrawal come as the U.S.is negotiating with Turkey about guaranteeing protections for USA -allied Kurdish fighters. Trump's abrupt decision in December to pull them, declaring in a tweet the defeat of ISIS, sent shockwaves across the region and led to the resignation of U.S. Defence Minister James Mattis and the top U.S. envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition.

USA national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday American troops will not leave northeastern Syria until ISIS is defeated and US -backed Kurds were protected.

There are 2,000 American troops in Syria.

"We will very soon mobilize to eliminate the terrorist organization in Syria", Erdogan said.

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US national security advisor John Bolton said Friday that talks between USA and Turkish military officials will continue next week.

But Bolton said Friday during a radio interview that talks are ongoing between the US military and Turkey regarding the Kurdish forces that have battled IS.

America "will use diplomacy and work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot" from Syria and bolster efforts "to bring peace and stability to the long-suffering Syrian people", he said during a speech in Egypt.

The U.S. and Turkey have been allies for more than six decades, but in recent years their relationship has been repeatedly strained by disputes.

The withdrawal comes amid a escalating tensions between the Syrian Kurds and the Turkish government, which has promised an imminent attack. Turkey considers the YPG to be part of the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers Party, a separatist group in eastern Turkey which has been labeled a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union.

She charged that the US appeared to be "looking for a reason to stay" in Syria.

USA troops have been involved in the Syrian conflict since 2014. Trump has asserted that the IS group in Syria is defeated, but others have said a continued US military presence is necessary to prevent a resurgence of the group. Russia, the Syrian government's most vital ally, would be happy to see the US pull out entirely of the war-torn country, where it has military bases and a significant troop presence.

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