Led coalition says Syria withdrawal has begun


USA forces have started their withdrawal from Syria, initiating the start of a troop reduction that earlier this week was cast into doubt by Predient Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a convoy of about 10 armoured vehicles and some trucks pulled out from the north-eastern town of Rmeilan on Thursday night and crossed the border into Iraq.

The U.S. has begun to withdraw equipment from Syria as questions about President Donald Trump's timeline and strategy for pulling troops from the eight-year conflict there continue to fuel confusion.

Mr Trump's national security adviser John Bolton was also sent to the region this week to reassure Israel, which is equally concerned about the Iranian presence in Syria, and to deter Turkey from launching its threatened offensive against the US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia that led the fight against ISIS in north-east Syria.

United States troops have begun withdrawing from Syria, compounding weeks of confusion over Donald Trump's policy in the Middle East and raising fears over the fate of America's Kurdish allies.

While the USA military pullout is now officially underway it has made a slow start.

Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the UK-based monitoring organisation, said some U.S. forces withdrew from the Rmelan military base on Thursday.

Either Turkey gave us some guarantees without a meeting, or the Kurds in Syria just found out how mercurial American support can be.

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Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Americans are not serious about withdrawing from Syria.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian of France, which is part of the USA -led coalition, welcomed what he believed was a slower withdrawal by the U.S after pressure from its allies.

"These have been folks that have fought with us and it's important that we do everything we can to ensure that those folks that fought with us are protected", Pompeo said during his tour of the Middle East this week, according to the AP.

The White House has not yet publicly altered it's most recent criteria, those announced by Bolton a week ago: that ISIS must be defeated and the Kurdish forces' security guaranteed before the American troops all come out. The latter will no doubt prove the more hard objective to meet.

Concerns have been raised about the safety after the withdrawal of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), whose main component the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) have been accused of being terrorists by Turkey. Turkey views the dominant Syrian Kurdish groups as a national security threat.

And numerous Trump administration's decisions have stoked confusion and angered many regional allies.

However, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the Turkish offensive would go ahead whether USA troops were in the area or not.