U.S. begins withdrawing troops, equipment from Syria

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Jan. 11 (UPI) — The Pentagon began its troop withdrawal from Syria Friday, a move that will remove about 2,000 soldiers and a lot of military equipment from the country.

Coalition spokesman Col. Sean Ryan said Friday the U.S.-led alliance has begun the process of “deliberate withdrawal from Syria,” but didn’t give specific timelines, locations or troop movements.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported witnesses in Hasakah saw 10 armored vehicles departing from a military base in al-Rmelan late Thursday.

Officials said militants have been pushed back to one quarter of Syria’s territory, setting up local councils in those regions. Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies could make a move to recapture U.S. controlled territory, because it’s rich in oil and farming.

Trump announced the withdrawal last month, saying the U.S. mission to defeat the Islamic State had been accomplished. He initially said he wanted them out in 30 days, but the timetable was later adjusted after reactions from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said he still planned to attack Kurdish forces in Syria east of the Euphrates River.

National security adviser John Bolton said Sunday the pullout was contingent on Turkey committing to fight Islamic State militants in Syria, while leaving the U.S.-allied Kurds alone.

Erdogan rejected the U.S. request to protect Kurdish fighters in Syria.

The Syrian civil war has been going since 2011.

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