Classifieds | Archives | Jobs | About TGT | Contact | Subscribe
 | 
Last updated 6 hours, 59 minutes ago
Printer Friendly Version | TGT@Twitter | RSS Feed |
HOME LOCAL MIDEAST ASIA WORLD BUSINESS SPORT OPINION WRITERS
US begins withdrawing gear from Syria, but not troops
January 12, 2019
 Print    Send to Friend

WASHINGTON: The US military has begun moving non-essential gear out of Syria but is not withdrawing troops for now, defense officials said amid uncertainty over America’s planned exit from the war-battered nation.

President Donald Trump last month claimed Daesh had been defeated in Syria and said all US troops were “coming back now.” 

But in the weeks since he gave the order, and the Pentagon began to implement it, Trump himself and members of his administration have delivered mixed messages about when a troop withdrawal may actually occur.

Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton on Sunday announced conditions for a withdrawal that appeared to delay it indefinitely.

Adding to the confusion, a military spokesman said the US had already begun “the process of our deliberate withdrawal” from Syria.

Late on Friday, Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Sean Robertson said that Operation Inherent Resolve “is implementing the orderly withdrawal of forces from northeast Syria within a framework coordinated across the US government.” 

The withdrawal, Robertson said, “is based on operational conditions on the ground, including conversation with our allies and partners, and is not be subject to an arbitrary timeline.”

He added: “For purposes of operational security, we will not discuss specific troop movements or timelines.

“However, we will confirm that there has been no redeployment of military personnel from Syria to date. The mission has not changed.”

US defense officials said the withdrawal was only of certain types of gear, and not troops.

“We are not withdrawing troops at this stage,” one US defense official said.

A second US defense official told AFP that the military had conducted a number of preparations for a deliberate withdrawal.

“That includes planning for the moving of people and equipment, preparation of facilities to accept retrograde equipment,” the official said, noting that no troops had been withdrawn.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported earlier that the US-led coalition in Syria had started scaling down its presence at Rmeilan airfield in the Hasakeh province of northeastern Syria.

But the first defense official said this was merely part of a regular troop movement.

The US-led coalition has several other bases across northeastern Syria, as well as in neighboring Iraq, where Trump has said American forces will remain.

Pompeo visit 

The coalition, which also includes countries such as France and Britain, was formed in mid-2014 to counter Daesh, which had seized swathes of Iraq and Syria and proclaimed a “caliphate.”

Air strikes and special forces have played key roles in efforts to claw back the territory lost to Daesh.

A Kurdish-led group, the Syrian Democratic Forces, is currently flushing the extremists from the last pockets of land they control in the Euphrates River Valley.

The battle against die-hard extremists in remote areas along the Iraqi-Syrian border and the hunt for Daesh supremo Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, the world’s most wanted man, could last indefinitely.

The start of the drawdown coincided with a Middle East tour by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who insisted in Cairo on Thursday that the withdrawal would go ahead despite widespread criticism.

On the same day however, Pompeo said in a speech that “when America retreats, chaos often follows.” 

Turkish threats 

Bolton’s conditions for a withdrawal included the defeat of Daesh in Syria and guarantees for the safety of Washington’s Kurdish allies, who have been threatened with an imminent offensive by Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan labeled Bolton’s comments unacceptable and a “grave mistake.”

The People’s Protection Units (YPG), which have spearheaded ground operations against Daesh in Syria, are an offshoot of the Kurdish PKK, which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist movement and has repeatedly threatened to move into Syria to create a buffer zone along the border.

The group has already started reaching out to Damascus and its Russian sponsor.

Critics of Trump’s decision, including within his own Republican party, have said a precipitous withdrawal would shatter US policy in Syria and allow Daesh to rebuild.

They have also argued that it would further allow Syrian regime ally Iran to extend its influence across the country and potentially threaten Israel.

Democratic congressman Adam Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, blasted the withdrawal plans. 

“The Trump Administration’s foreign policy is as deeply flawed in its conception as it is dangerously incompetent in its execution,” Schiff said on Twitter.

Though Trump has said he wants a withdrawal to be coordinated, gradual and “prudent,” observers have stressed that his announcement was having the same impact as a withdrawal itself.

“The damage is done,” said Fabrice Balanche, a geographer and Syria expert.

“On the ground, the announcement of the pullout is as if they were already gone.”

Agence France-Presse

Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Comments
 
Post a comment
 
Name:
Country:
City:
Email:
Comment:
 
    
    
Other Latest News
Partnership formed to boost women’s role
ABU DHABI: NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA) and the Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy (WiSER) platform – a Masdar-led initiative dedica..
Etihad Airways flies world’s first flight using fuel made in UAE from plants
ABU DHABI: The Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), a non-profit entity established by Masdar Institute that is part of Khalifa University of Science and Tec..
Emirates and flydubai partnership to add new codeshare destinations in 2019
DUBAI: The strategic partnership between Dubai’s two airlines, Emirates and flydubai, continues to open up the world for travellers since its launch 14 months ago, and is..
Stocks turn red, pound finds peace
LONDON: Concern over China’s economic outlook and possible US tariffs on European cars dragged stocks lower on Thursday, while an anti-climactic end to the latest chapte..
Opec successfully averts glut in 2019
LONDON: Opec said on Thursday it had cut oil output sharply in December before a new accord to limit supply took effect, suggesting producers have made a strong start to ..
FRONTPAGE
 
GALLERY
 
PANORAMA
 
TIME OUT
 
SPORT
 
 
Advertise | Copyright