Syria withdrawal has started | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 12, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:52 AM, January 12, 2019

Syria withdrawal has started

Says US-led coalition

The US-led coalition in Syria has begun withdrawing its troops, a spokesman said yesterday, less than a month after US President Donald Trump made his shock announcement.

The force which has battled the Islamic State group since 2014 started scaling down but it remained unclear how long the drawdown process would last.

"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-jihadist force.

"Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements," he said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the coalition had started scaling down its presence at Rmeilan airfield in the Hasakeh province in northeastern Syria.

"On Thursday, some American forces withdrew from the Rmeilan military base," Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based monitoring organisation, said.

"This is the first such pullout of American forces since the US president's announcement" of a military withdrawal from Syria last month, he said.

The US-led coalition has several other bases across northeastern Syria, as well as in neighbouring Iraq, where Trump has said his forces would remain.

A US defence official in Washington had earlier confirmed to AFP that equipment was being removed from Syria.

The US-led coalition, which also includes countries such as France and Britain, was formed in mid-2014 to counter the expansion of the Islamic State group after it proclaimed its self-styled "caliphate".

Trump claimed last month that the jihadists had been defeated and that US troops could therefore come home.

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