US military announces start of troop withdrawal from Syria

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The US-led coalition against Islamic State has begun the process of withdrawing from Syria, its spokesman said on Friday, affirming the start of a pullout that has been clouded by mixed messages from US officials.

However, after talks with US President Donald Trump, who informed the Turkish counterpart of the US troops withdrawal from Syria, Erdogan shelved its plans, saying that the offensive would be launched only after the complete pullout of the US forces.

Cavusoglu said Washington chose to withdraw its troops from Syria after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's firm stance against removing threat coming to Turkey from east of the Euphrates River in Syria.

Turkey had rejected the US claim that the Syrian Kurds were represented by the YPG, which Ankara sees as a terrorist organization.

Speaking in the United Arab Emirates, Mr Pompeo said he thought it would be possible to reach an agreement which would allow the Turks to defend themselves from terror threats while protecting Kurds - who have been fighting alongside USA troops - against the so-called Islamic State group. "Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troop movements", Colonel Sean Ryan said, according to Reuters.

The military is carrying out the withdrawal under an order signed by former Defense Secretary James Mattis just before he left office December 31.

This is a developing story. These include troops to provide additional security.

Turkey considers many of Syria's Kurdish groups to be terrorists and has pledged to attack them.

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Saying that they evacuated a hospital in Jinderes upon the orders of USA soldiers and being transferred into a hospital in the city center, the woman said that "they wanted us to treat wounded terrorists there".

But Bolton said Friday during a radio interview that talks are ongoing between the US military and Turkey regarding the Kurdish forces that have battled IS.

Trump's decision to leave Syria, which he initially said would be rapid but later slowed down, shocked USA allies and angered the Kurds in Syria, who are vulnerable to attack by Turkey.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is on a tour of the region, has also sought to reassure the Kurds that they will be safe after U.S. troops withdraw from the country.

Over the intervening years the number of United States troops in Syria has increased, and a network of bases and airfields has been established in an arc across the north-eastern part of the country.

Earlier this week, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said American troops will not leave northeastern Syria until IS is defeated and American-allied Kurdish fighters are protected, signalling a slowdown in Trump's initial order for a rapid withdrawal.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan labeled Bolton's comments unacceptable and a "grave mistake". He added that Ankara's mission in northern Syria is to purge terrorist groups from the entire area, not only Manbij. If not, the Trump administration would be accused of abandoning an ally to a grim fate.

Kurdish People's Protection Units, as a terrorist group linked to the Kurdistan Worker's Party which has fought a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state. "However, we will confirm that there has been no redeployment of military personnel from Syria to date".

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