Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman to U.S.-led military coalition in Syria, has confirmed that that they had begun the process of withdrawing troops from Syria.
Ryan said that the coalition fighting the Islamic State group, the U.S. started “the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria”.
“Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements,” he said in a statement.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict in Syria through a network of activists on the ground, said the withdrawal began Thursday night.
It said a convoy of about 10 armored vehicles, in addition to some trucks, pulled out from Syria’s northeastern town of Rmeilan into Iraq.
Confirmation of the first withdrawals comes amid confusion over plans to implement President Donald Trump’s pullout order and threats from Turkey to attack the Kurds, who have been America’s partners on the ground in the war against the Islamic State group in Syria.
The order to withdraw American troops from Syria had been signed, after President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart agreed to prevent a power vacuum in the wake of the controversial move.
The announcement that US troops would leave the civil war-racked country — where they have been deployed to assist in the multinational fight against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group — shocked global partners and American politicians alike.
“The execute order for Syria has been signed,” a US military spokesperson told AFP when asked about the withdrawal order, without providing further details.
Turkey was a rare ally that lauded Trump’s momentous decision on Syria, a country where it will now have a freer rein to target US-allied Kurdish fighters who have played a major role in the war against IS but are deemed terrorists by Ankara.
Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by telephone on Sunday and “agreed to ensure coordination between their countries’ military, diplomatic and other officials to avoid a power vacuum which could result following any abuse of the withdrawal and transition phase in Syria,” the Turkish presidency said in a statement.
Late Sunday, Trump tweeted that Erdogan had assured him that any remaining IS fighters in Syria will be eliminated.
“President @RT_Erdogan of Turkey has very strongly informed me that he will eradicate whatever is left of ISIS in Syria,” Trump said in a Tweet around midnight Sunday, using another acronym for the jihadist group.
Repeating a pattern of admiring comments towards global strongmen, Trump added that Erdogan “is a man who can do it.”
The US president concluded: “Our troops are coming home!”