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US Moves in Syria Irk Russia, Turkey

US Moves in Syria Irk Russia, Turkey

The U.S. military said Friday it has begun withdrawing troops from Syria, initiating a drawdown that has blindsided allies and sparked a scramble for control of the areas that American troops will leave.

The US military has begun moving non-essential gear out of Syria but is not withdrawing troops for now, defence officials said Friday as uncertainty grew over America's planned pullout from the battered nation. A separate spokesman for the anti-ISIS coalition declined to discuss timelines, locations and troop movements, as NPR's Bill Chappell reported.

A US official told ABC News that in recent days military equipment has been moved out of Syria into Iraq.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday that the thousands of Turkish troops amassed along the Syrian border would attack whether the United States is out or not. However, Ankara asked for more time and for postponing the start of joint patrols in Idlib due to its inability to provide security guarantees.

Witnesses on the ground told the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights they saw 10 armored vehicles, and other equipment, roll out from a US base in Rmeilan in Hassakeh province and head toward neighboring Iraq.

It said a convoy of ten armoured vehicles and some trucks had pulled out of Rmeilan, in Syria's north west, into Iraq. -Turkish consultations as part of the "deliberate and coordinated" withdrawal of American forces from Syria. Following the announcement, he was forced to reiterate the U.S.'s commitment to its more substantial troop to neighboring Iraq, where the US -led coalition is also fighting ISIS.

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Last week, President Erdogan angrily rejected calls by US National Security Adviser John Bolton for the Kurdish fighters to be protected.

He added Pompeo also stressed the importance that the US places on the protection of forces, namely PYD/YPG, the Syrian offshoot of PKK terror organization. Many are also anxious that the Kurdish forces, which spearheaded the fight against the "Islamic State" militants with U.S. backing, would be left vulnerable to an imminent attack by Turkey.

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

A political deal could piece back together the two biggest chunks of a country splintered by eight years of war, leaving one corner of the northwest in the hands of anti-Assad rebels backed by Turkey - an adversary of both the YPG and Damascus.

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.

After announcing the pullout, Trump tweeted that Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan "has very strongly informed me that he will eradicate whatever is left of (the Islamic State) in Syria", adding that the Turkish strongman was "a man who can do it".