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US begins pulling gear from Syria

US begins pulling gear from Syria

AFP
Washington
The US military has begun moving non-essential gear out of Syria but is not withdrawing troops for now, defence officials said on Friday as uncertainty grew over America’s planned pullout from the battered nation.
President Donald Trump last month claimed the Islamic State group had been defeated in Syria and said all US troops were “coming back now”.
But in the weeks since he gave the order, and the Pentagon began to implement it, Trump himself and members of his administration have delivered mixed messages about when the withdrawal may actually occur.
A military spokesman said on Friday that the US had already begun “the process of our deliberate withdrawal” from Syria.
US defence officials quickly sought to clarify the remark, stressing that the withdrawal was only of certain types of gear, and not troops. “We are not withdrawing troops at this stage,” one US defence official said.
A second US defence official told AFP that the military had conducted a number of preparations for a deliberate withdrawal.
“That includes planning for the moving of people and equipment, preparation of facilities to accept retrograde equipment,” the official said, noting that no troops had been withdrawn.
The Pentagon stressed it would not telegraph its troop movements or give timelines for when they may leave Syria.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported earlier that the US-led coalition in Syria had started scaling down its presence at Rmeilan airfield in the Hasakeh province of northeastern Syria.
The US-led coalition has several other bases across northeastern Syria, as well as in neighbouring Iraq, where Trump has said American forces will remain.
The coalition, which also includes countries such as France and Britain, was formed in mid-2014 to counter IS, which had seized swathes of Iraq and Syria and proclaimed a “caliphate.”

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