Syria troop withdrawal under way, says US-led coalition

The US-led military coalition in Syria has begun withdrawing troops, a spokesman has said, without elaborating on locations or timetables.

Col Sean Ryan told Agence France-Presse in a statement: “Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria.

“Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the coalition had started reducing its presence at Rmelan airfield in the north-eastern province of Hasakah.

Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the UK-based monitoring organisation, said some US forces withdrew from the Rmelan military base on Thursday.

Last month, Donald Trump said he had ordered the withdrawal of all US forces from Syria, where there are believed to be about American 2,000 troops.

Friday’s announcement signalled the first such withdrawal since the president’s announcement, Rahman said.

Trump’s announcement, which followed a phone call with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was criticised even within his own camp and is already having significant repercussions on the almost eight-year conflict.