Trump Announces Beginning of 'Long Overdue Pullout' of US Troops from Syria

Postado Janeiro 14, 2019

In an apparent gesture to save face, following a questionable outcome of four years of uninvited American presence in Syria and an abrupt withdrawal, Trump has once-again credited the United States military for destroying IS, disregarding the fact that most of the country was liberated from terrorists by the Syrian army, with the help of the Russian military.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday sought to reassure Washington's Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS, who fear the departure of American troops would allow Turkey to attack them.

Turkey had reacted angrily to suggestions that Trump's plan to withdraw troops was conditional on the safety of the US-backed Kurdish fighters, seen by the Turkish government as terrorists.

The announcement of a pullout is fueling concern about how quickly the USA will abandon its Kurdish allies, amid contradictory statements recently by Trump administration officials on an exit timetable.

Several weeks later, national security adviser John Bolton said the withdrawal will have a longer timeline, and will not be undertaken until Kurdish fighters are protected and ISIS is defeated in the war-torn country.

Trump also threatened to "devastate Turkey economically" if the country hit the Kurds living in Syria. He mentioned a "20-mile safe zone" but again did not give details.

After media reports suggesting the departure of United States forces had begun, the Pentagon later said no troops had yet withdrawn and stressed that the battle against ISIS was continuing as US-backed forces try to capture the group's last remaining pockets of territory in Syria.

Turkey, however, remains firmly committed to removing what they call a Kurdish "terrorist" threat coming from the Euphrates River valley, and is actively preparing for a possible cross-border operation.

Mustafa Bali, SDF media office head, said the SDF had stepped up attacks in the last two days and taken control of the area between the Islamic State enclave and the Iraqi border, cutting an escape route.

The monitor said 300 SDF combatants had deployed near the village of Sousa in preparation for a final assault.

The US military, Trump promised, will still use an "existing nearby base", apparently in Iraq, to attack the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants if the terrorist organization re-emerges in Syria.

Mr Pompeo said the withdrawal of USA troops from Syria was a "tactical change" but the mission to destroy Islamic State and counter Iran's influence remained the same.

"Stop the ENDLESS WARS!" he added.

Abdel Rahman said 16,000 people, including 760 Isis fighters, had fled the area since the start of December, though this marked the first time the SDF and the coalition provided buses, suggesting a deal struck between the warring sides.