‘We Don’t Take Orders From Bolton’: Pentagon Plans Syria Withdrawal

Turkish president slams US over mixed message

The US-led military coalition in Syria has begun withdrawing troops, a spokesman has said, without elaborating on locations or timetables.

Speaking in Cairo on Thursday, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo tried to dispel confusion, saying the USA would continue to fight Islamic State as it withdraws and that "the United States will use diplomacy and work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot, and work through the UN-led process to bring peace and stability to the long-suffering Syrian people".

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.

It said a convoy of ten armoured vehicles and some trucks had pulled out of Rmeilan, in Syria's north west, into Iraq. Trump's abrupt decision in December to pull them, declaring in a tweet the defeat of ISIS, sent shockwaves across the region and led to the resignation of U.S. Defence Minister James Mattis and the top U.S. envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition.

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U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton suggested on Tuesday that protecting the Kurds would be a pre-condition of the USA withdrawal, drawing a rebuke from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who called his comments "a serious mistake".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Masoud Barzani leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the province's capital Arbil during a Middle East tour, on January 9, 2019. On Friday, he told Egyptian state TV that the USA will pull out of Syria as the president ordered, "but we'll do so in a way that makes sense, that is orderly, that does everything we can to ensure the security of those who fought alongside us defeating the caliphate inside of Syria".

USA troops have been involved in Syria's war since 2014 when the first elite force arrived in the country to advise Kurdish-led fighters who were involved in battles against the Islamic State group.

"We have no problems with our Kurdish brothers, Arab brothers in Syria, Turkmens and other ethnic and religious groups", the DM explained, "Our only targets are the terrorists ISIS and PKK/YPG".

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While speaking to reporters Friday, a spokesperson for Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said establishing dialogue is vital to maintaining peace.The spokesperson also urged the U.S.to hand over its territory to Assad amid threats from Turkey of a possible attack on Kurds in the region.

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

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday that the thousands of Turkish troops amassed along the Syrian border would attack whether the USA is out or not. "For security reasons, I am not going to provide further details at this time". The latter will no doubt prove the more hard objective to meet.

Now, America's allies on the ground are turning to Washington's rivals for protection.

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"It's clear that the administration has no real plan", said Sen.

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