"Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements", the Baghdad-based official said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. A convoy of about 10 armored vehicles and some trucks pulled out of Rmeilan, Syria, heading for and into Iraq.
Other analysts argued that it would be wrong for Trump to abandon USA allies the Kurds, who have been instrumental in fighting ISIS, because Turkey would likely launch an attack against them. Ironically, troops that are designated to help with the eventual withdrawal already are in the area, adding more more troops in the vicinity now than before President Donald Trump announced the Syria withdrawal in December. Analysts argued it would be wrong for Trump to abandon USA allies the Kurds, who have been instrumental in fighting ISIS, because Turkey would likely launch an attack against them.
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".
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been touring the Middle East this week to reassure allies of Washington's commitment to regional security, said on Thursday the withdrawal would not be scuppered despite the Turkish threats.
US 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. He stressed that the fight against ISIS would continue, but he did no repeat the need for the Kurds to be protected, or mention Bolton's previous vow to curb Iran's presence in Syria.
Friday's announcement signalled the first such withdrawal since the president's announcement, Rahman said.
The military would not give any detail of the overall timetable for the American withdrawal nor which positions U.S. troops had begun pulling back from.
"President Trump has made the decision to bring our troops home from Syria". The first of those criteria is unmet, but feasible, as the terror group now holds only a small patch of land in Syria. Reports suggested that Turkey was preparing a military attack against the Kurds in Syria, who Erdogan views as an extension of a Kurdish group in Turkey that the government has been battling for decades.
Turkey was a rare ally that lauded Trump's momentous decision on Syria, a country where it will now have a freer rein to target US-allied Kurdish fighters who have played a major role in the war against IS but are deemed terrorists by Ankara.
There are 2,000 American troops in Syria.