On 19 December, President Donald Trump declared victory over Daesh* terrorists in Syria and announced his decision to withdraw roughly 2,000 US troops from the Middle Eastern country.
A US defence official stated on Friday that the American military had removed some military hardware from Syria amid reports that the withdrawal is under way.
“I can confirm the movement of equipment from Syria. For security reasons, I am not going to provide further details at this time”, the official was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.
The remarks came after CNN cited a Trump administration official familiar with the situation as saying that “some [US] cargo has already moved” from Syria.
Meanwhile, the US-led coalition has reportedly said that they had “begun the process” of “deliberate withdrawal from Syria” but that they would not “discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements” in Syria pullout.
The reported developments followed a report published by London-based news website Middle East Eye about US National Security Adviser John Bolton’s proposal to withdraw American troops from a position near the Iraqi and Jordanian border, which is seen as a bulwark against alleged Iranian entrenchment in Syria.
The Middle East Eye quoted an unnamed Turkish official as saying that Bolton handed the document to Turkish officials and visited Ankara earlier this week to discuss the planned US troop withdrawal. US officials did not comment on the report.
Earlier, Bolton reportedly told Turkish officials that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent article on the US troop pullout was wrong and offensive.
In a think piece published by The New York Times on 7 January, Erdogan described Trump’s move to withdraw US forces from Syria as “the right call”, but noted that the pullout must be planned “carefully”.
Previously, Erdogan, while commenting on Bolton’s statement pertaining to a possible Turkish operation against Kurdish forces, criticised him by saying that Turkey could never compromise on the issue of the Kurdish YPG militia, as, according to the president, they had never actually fought against Daesh.
The developments came after US President Donald Trump tweeted that his move to withdraw American troops from Syria was right, and that the US military will be returning home “with victory” over Daesh.
On 19 December, the White House announced plans to withdraw roughly 2,000 US troops from Syria within the next several months, a move that Trump claimed can be explained by the fact that American forces had implemented their task of obliterating Daesh in the Arab country.The decision was slammed by some US officials and prompted two resignations: US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, who announced that his views were no longer aligned with Trump’s, and Brett McGurk, special presidential envoy for the US coalition in Syria.