United States troops begin withdrawing from Syria

1 2018 Turkish and U.S. troops conduct joint patrols around the Syrian town of Manbij as part of an agreement that aimed to ease tensions between the two NATO allies

The U.S. -led coalition against Islamic State began the process of withdrawing from Syria on Friday, making good on Trump's announcement that he had chose to remove 2,000 U.S. troops.

USA defense officials said the withdrawal was only of certain types of gear, and not troops.

The official told CBS News senior national security correspondent David Martin that equipment had begun moving out earlier this week.

USA forces' vehicles and structures are seen on the outskirts of the northern Syrian town of Manbij on December 26, 2018.

Earlier, US military spokesman Colonel Sean Ryan had said the US had begun "the process of our deliberate withdrawal" from Syria.

In a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Friday, he declined to discuss specific timelines or locations or troops movements out of concern for operational security.

This is a developing story. It said a convoy of about 10 armoured vehicles, in addition to some trucks, pulled out from Syria's northeastern town of Rmeilan into Iraq.

Mr Pompeo is now on a regional tour to assure Middle East allies of Washington's continued commitment to countering extremists militants in the region and the threat posed by Iran.

On Thursday, Turkey said it would launch an offensive against the YPG even if the United States delayed the withdrawal of its troops.

Addressing concerns that the USA withdrawal would allow Iranian and Iran-backed forces to remain in Syria and fulfill Tehran's ambition of establishing a strategically important land bridge to the Mediterranean, Mr Pompeo said the United States "will use diplomacy and work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot" from the country.

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There has been confusion over plans to implement Trump's pullout order amid threats from Turkey to attack the Kurdish fighters, who are seen by Ankara as terrorists due to their ties to insurgents within Turkey.

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

President Donald Trump last month claimed the Islamic State group had been defeated in Syria and said all U.S. troops were "coming back now".

While the US military pullout is now officially underway it has made a slow start. "But as President Trump has said, we're looking to our partners to do more".

USA troops are still working with a partner known as the Syrian Democratic Forces to stamp out the last IS holdouts in the Middle Euphrates River Valley near the Iraqi border.

Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar visited Turkish troops along the Syrian border Friday, and vowed to eliminate the Kurdish forces in Syria.

"When the time and place comes, the terrorists here will also be buried in the ditches and trenches they have dug", the minister said in southern Sanliurfa province.

The U.S. has about 5,200 troops in Iraq to assist its security forces, and Trump has given no indication he intends to withdraw them any time soon.

The US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said the move had "dangerous implications" for stability, would "negatively affect the campaign against terrorism" and create "a political and military vacuum".

Karam reported from Beirut.

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