US troops begin to withdraw from Syria, official says


The U.S.-led military coalition in Syria started the process of withdrawing troops from the embattled region, a U.S. defense official confirmed to Fox News on Friday.

The U.S. started “the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria,” said Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the coalition fighting the Islamic State.

“Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements,” Ryan said in a statement to the Associated Press.

The withdrawal appeared to have begun Thursday night, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict in Syria through activists on the ground. A convoy of about 10 armored vehicles and some trucks pulled out of Rmeilan, Syria, heading for and into Iraq.

The first withdrawals come amid confusion over plans to implement President Donald Trump’s pullout order and threats from Turkey to attack the Kurds, who are U.S. allies in the fighting against ISIS.

Trump’s decision to remove troops from Syria sent shockwaves through the embattled region and led to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis.

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday American troops will not leave northeastern Syria until ISIS is defeated and U.S.-backed Kurds were protected. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also sought to reassure the Kurds they will be safe after the U.S. completely pulls out.

There are 2,000 American troops in Syria.

Lucas Tomlinson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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