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US-led coalition says Syria withdrawal has begun | News

The United States-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) has started the process of withdrawing from Syria, its spokesperson has said.

The coalition “has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria. Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troop movements,” Colonel Sean Ryan said on Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the coalition had started scaling down its presence at Rmeilan airfield in the notheastern province of Hasakeh.

“On Thursday, some American forces withdrew from the Rmeilan military base in Hasakeh province,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based monitoring organisation.

“This is the first such pullout of American forces since the US president’s announcement” of a full troop withdrawal from Syria last month, he said.

On December 19, Donald Trump said he had ordered the withdrawal of all US forces in Syria, which are believed to number around 2,000.

His announcement, which came after a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was criticised even within his own camp and is already having major repercussions on the nearly eight-year-old conflict.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is currently on a Middle East tour to reassure allies about US plans to withdraw troops from Syria.

In his keynote speech at the American University in Cairo on Thursday, Pompeo described the US as a “force for good” and said it remained committed to the “complete dismantling” of the threat posed by the ISIL group despite Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria.

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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