U.S. withdraws some military equipment from Syria

1 2018 Turkish and U.S. troops conduct joint patrols around the Syrian town of Manbij as part of an agreement that aimed to ease tensions between the two NATO allies

Separately, the head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, confirmed that the United States had started withdrawing troops from the airfield base near the town of Rmeilan in northeast Syria on Thursday evening.

"Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements", the statement added. This, she said, includes putting an end to the Turkish threats and fully eradicating the Islamic State group and its sleeper cells.

Giving a subsequent speech about broader USA policy in the Middle East at the American University in Cairo, Pompeo said "now is the time" to bring America's forces out of Syria.

Ahmed spoke to The Associated Press Friday hours after an American official said the process of withdrawing American equipment from Syria has begun.

The YPG is an important ally in the US war against the Islamic State.

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It said a convoy of ten armoured vehicles and some trucks had pulled out of Rmeilan, in Syria's north west, into Iraq. Stalling the process were fears about Turkey invading territory held by Kurdish allies to the US, and leaving a power vacuum in the war-torn country. Russian Federation is mediating talks between the Syrian government and the Kurds to ensure a smooth transition when US troops leave the region.

US Secretary of Defense Mike Pompeo stressed on Thursday that the alleged US withdrawal from Syria was not "a change of mission".

"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. Once the troops are gone, the USA will have ended three years of organizing, arming, advising and providing air cover for Syrian, Kurdish and Arab fighters in an open-ended campaign devised by the Obama administration to deal the IS group a lasting defeat.

Earlier this week, Bolton called security assurances for the USA -backed Kurdish forces a necessary condition for the withdrawal of US forces from Syria.

Opponents of the move claim that the pullout will allow Russia, Iran and the Syrian regime to expand their influence in the region.

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In his speech at the American University in Cairo on Thursday, the secretary of state said the U.S. would continue working with coalition partners to defeat ISIS and would continue air strikes against terrorist targets in the region.

Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters on Friday that it appears to Moscow that the U.S.

The move fueled questions about the USA commitment to eliminate remaining pockets of Islamic State militants as well as the fate of Kurdish forces that have fought alongside the US but that Turkey considers terrorists.

"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.

The US president concluded: "Our troops are coming home!" In this photo from December 30, 2018, a line of USA military vehicles are seen at a checkpoint in northern Syria.

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Karam reported from Beirut.

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