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U.S. withdraws some military equipment from Syria

11 January 2019

President Donald Trump announced last month the decision to withdraw 2,000 U.S. troops who have deployed to Syria in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia in the fight against Islamic State.

But the Journal reported the Pentagon execution order directing the withdrawal could be modified as details of the withdrawal plan are sorted out, noting the existing order did not include a date for the troops' exit.

The withdrawal appeared to have begun Thursday night, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict in Syria through activists on the ground.

Other analysts argued that it would be wrong for Trump to abandon US allies the Kurds, who have been instrumental in fighting ISIS, because Turkey would likely launch an attack against them. Others were not immediately available.

The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, which had been moored in Crete, is leading a group of vessels towards the eastern Mediterranean to support the 2,000 U.S. troops as they leave the Kurdish-majority part of northeastern Syria, Pentagon officials told The Wall Street Journal.

"This is the first such pullout of American forces since the U.S. president's announcement" of a full troop withdrawal from Syria last month, he said. Analysts argued it would be wrong for Trump to abandon US allies the Kurds, who have been instrumental in fighting ISIS, because Turkey would likely launch an attack against them.

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"We're going to be discussing the president's decision to withdraw, but to do so from northeast Syria in a way that makes sure that ISIS is defeated and is not able to revive itself and become a threat again", Bolton said when meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

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.

After initially tweeting about the decision to bring back USA troops "now", Trump this week said "we will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary!" Top U.S. officials were shocked too, among them Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who quit in protest. The withdrawal benefits Syrian President Bashar Assad and his worldwide backers, Russian Federation and Iran, who are primed to move into the region to fill a vacuum left behind by the Americans.

However, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the Turkish offensive would go ahead whether United States troops were in the area or not. She said Russian Federation has not seen public statements laying out the US strategy in Syria and so can not be sure that the U.S.is serious about leaving.

In the weeks following his announcement, Mr Trump has given differing signals over the future of U.S. involvement in the country.

U.S. withdraws some military equipment from Syria