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U.S.-Led Coalition Says Withdrawal 'Process' From Syria Has Begun


A line of U.S. military vehicles drive through a checkpoint in Manbij as they head to their base on the outskirts of the northern Syrian city on December 30.

A U.S. military spokesman says the U.S.-led military coalition in Syria has begun the process of withdrawing troops from the country.

The spokesman, Colonel Sean Ryan, said in a January 11 statement that "the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria" had begun, however he did not reveal specific details.

"Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements," Ryan said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the U.S.-led coalition had started scaling down its presence at the Rmeilan airfield in Syria's northeastern province of Hasakeh.

It said the U.S. troops began to withdraw from the military base on January 10, describing the development as "the first such pullout of American forces" since President Donald Trump announced on December 19 that he intended to withdraw all of an estimated 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria.

But the Associated Press quoted unnamed defense officials as saying that the U.S. military had started pulling equipment, but not troops, out of Syria.

The officials said that no U.S. troops had been withdrawn from Syria, but added that the contingent of about 2,000 troops is expected to depart from the war-torn country in coming weeks.

Trump's announcement, which came after a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stunned U.S. allies and has been criticized within his own administration.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP