The US withdrawal of troops from Syria has officially started, says a senior military official. Colonel Sean Ryan, spokesperson for the US-lead coalition fighting Islamic State, said the process of pulling out from country has begun.
However, amid confusion over the US timetable of pulling out, Ryan didn’t give any details of how many vehicles or troops has been withdrawn due to a “concern for operational security”.
It was announced that the 2,000 troops in Syria would be withdrawn over the course of 60 to 100 days, but officials including US national security adviser John Bolton have said the US States will not leave until IS is defeated.
After initially tweeting that he would bring back US troops “now”, Mr Trump this week said the US would “be leaving at a proper pace” while “continuing to fight IS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary”.
The news that a withdrawal had begun was confirmed on Thursday by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in the UK, which monitors activity in the war-town country through a network of activists.
It said a convoy of ten armoured vehicles and some trucks had pulled out of Rmeilan, in Syria’s north west, into Iraq.
President Trump shocked almost everyone – from Congress and the Pentagon, to America’s allies and enemies around the world – when he announced the pullout, arguing that the US was “getting nothing” from its involvement in the country.
The announcement was criticised by British defence minister Tobias Ellwood, who said IS had “morphed into other forms of extremism” and that the threat “is very much alive”.