The U.S. military is going ahead with plans for a withdraw of all American troops from Syria despite a shifting timetable, and a U.S. -Turkey rift that might delay the pullout, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
"Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria", spokesman Colonel Sean Ryan told AFP in a statement, referring to the US-led anti-militancy force.
"Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements", the Baghdad-based official said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.
The news that a withdrawal had begun was confirmed on Thursday by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in the United Kingdom, which monitors activity in the war-town country through a network of activists.
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 order to withdraw American troops from Syria had been signed, after President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart agreed to prevent a power vacuum in the wake of the controversial move.
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It was announced that the 2,000 troops in Syria would be withdrawn over the course of 60 to 100 days, but officials including US national security adviser John Bolton have said the US States will not leave until IS is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. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is on a tour of the region, has also sought to reassure the Kurds that they will be safe after USA troops withdraw from the country.
The announcement that U.S. troops would leave the civil war-racked country - where they have been deployed to assist in the multinational fight against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group - shocked global partners and American politicians alike.
Kurdish officials, meanwhile, have demanded clarifications from the USA over its intentions.
"President Trump has made the decision to bring our troops home from Syria". Reports suggested that Turkey was preparing a military attack against the Kurds in Syria, who Erdogan views as an extension of a Kurdish group in Turkey that the government has been battling for decades.
However, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the Turkish offensive would go ahead whether USA troops were in the area or not.
Washington's Kurdish allies in northern Syria fear the withdrawal will open the way for Turkey to mount a long-threatened offensive against their area.