‘We Don’t Take Orders From Bolton’: Pentagon Plans Syria Withdrawal

U.S. position installed near the front line between the U.S-backed Syrian Manbij Military Council and the Turkish-backed fighters in Manbij north Syria. An American military official said Friday Ja

US pullout from Syria begins amid confusion over Pentagon timetable

The United States military on Friday began moving non-essential gear out of Syria, but will not withdraw troops immediately, AFP reported, citing American defense officials.

Following the announcement, Defense Secretary James Mattis submitted his resignation letter.

"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 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Stalling the process were fears about Turkey invading territory held by Kurdish allies to the USA, and leaving a power vacuum in the war-torn country. In this photo from December 30, 2018, a line of US military vehicles are seen at a checkpoint in northern Syria.

USA airstrikes against IS in Syria began in September 2014, and ground troops moved in the following year in small numbers.

Residents near border-crossing points typically used by USA forces moving in and out of Syria from Iraq told Reuters they had seen no obvious or large-scale movements following Friday's announcement.

The U.S. started "the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria", said Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the coalition fighting the Islamic State.

Representatives of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a military coalition dominated by Kurdish fighters, declined to comment Friday, suggesting instead that the US military should explain its plans.

Operation Inherent Resolve, the United States military's term for its intervention in Syria and Iraq, now means "implementing the orderly withdrawal of forces from northeast Syria within a framework coordinated across the United States government", Pentagon spokesperson Sean Robertson said on Friday evening.

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Turkey dismissed that condition, and Pompeo said the withdrawal would continue.

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.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu went so far on Wednesday as to say that if the USA withdrawal from Syria was delayed, "then we will put this decision into practice", suggesting Turkey could go after the Kurds in short order. Turkey views the Kurdish YPG militia, which forms the core of the SDF force, as a national security threat.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow Friday, she said it appears to Moscow that the U.S.

"When the time and place comes, the terrorists here will be buried in the ditches they have dug, as was done in previous operations", Akar told the Turkish troops.

In Cairo on Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that although Trump has made a decision to bring troops home, he will keep up the fight against the IS group more broadly.

This follows U.S. President Donald Trump's recent remark last week that Iran "can do what they want" in Syria.

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