Withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria begins

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

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"Timetables or the timing of the withdrawal occurs as a result of the fulfillment of the conditions and the establishment of the circumstances that we want to see", Bolton said Sunday, which struck a different tone than the December 19 announcement White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders made, in which she said the USA had already begun pulling American troops.

The timeline for leaving Syria has been extended multiple times since Trump declared the military defeat of ISIS and announced the rapid withdrawal of USA troops.

Initial indications from the White House were that USA forces would be withdrawn from Syria in 30 days.

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

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. It said a convoy of about 10 armored vehicles, in addition to some trucks, pulled out from Syria's northeastern town of Rmeilan into Iraq.

Trump has said he agreed to submit areas under the control of Kurdish militants to Turkey, prompting outrage among the community in northern Syria and warnings by United States politicians that Washington was betraying its allies in the region. Turkey considers the YPG to be part of the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers Party, a separatist group in eastern Turkey which has been labeled a terrorist organization by Turkey, the USA and the European Union.

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USA national security advisor John Bolton said Friday that talks between US and Turkish military officials will continue next week.

Speaking in Egypt Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed the troop pullout from Syria would go ahead as he urged Middle East nations to forge a common stand against Tehran.

But shortly after, other witnesses on the ground in Syria reported seeing an influx of Western troops and equipment to parts of Aleppo province in northern Syria.

19 announcement that he was moving to disentangle US troops from Syria's complex battlefield sparked fears that the move might undo efforts to defeat the Islamic State's final remnant in Syria.

Freelance governing: "Like so often in the Trump presidency, it seems that members of the administration are taking what should be said with their inside voice and saying it with their outside voice", Frances Brown, a former National Security Council official during the Obama and Trump administrations, told Al-Monitor.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he will carry out the long-planned offensive against the YPG, regardless of the US withdrawal pace.

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However, she adds that safeguarding the peace and stability of the areas they withdraw from "must be guaranteed".

America's operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the country were to continue during the withdrawal process.

The U.S. military has a limited network of bases inside Syria.

This comes just three-weeks after President Trump announced he is bringing troops home.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday that the thousands of Turkish troops amassed along the Syrian border would attack whether the U.S. is out or not.

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