The US-led coalition battling ISIS said on Friday that it had started the pullout process but US officials later clarified that only equipment, not troops, had exited the country.
US President Donald Trump’s announcement last month that he had decided to withdraw the 2,000 US troops there stunned allies who have joined Washington in the battle against ISIS militants in Syria. Senior US officials were shocked too, among them Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who quit in protest.
US Colonel Sean Ryan, a coalition spokesman, said the coalition “has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria.”
“Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troop movements,” Ryan said.
After media reports suggesting the departure of US forces had begun, US officials told Reuters that no troops had yet withdrawn and stressed that the battle against ISIS was continuing as US-backed forces try to capture the group’s last remaining pockets of territory in Syria. The three US officials spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
But the US officials confirmed that equipment was being moved out of Syria, a sign that despite mixed messages from Washington preparations for a withdrawal of troops was proceeding apace.
Residents near border crossings that are typically used by US forces going in and out of Syria from Iraq said they had seen no obvious or large-scale movement of US ground forces on Friday.
Separately, Syrian state news agency SANA said Israeli warplanes fired a number of missiles toward the Damascus area on Friday, triggering Syrian air defenses that shot down most of them. “The results of the aggression so far were limited to a strike on one of the warehouses at Damascus airport,” SANA quoted a military source as saying.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر