The US Has Reportedly Started Pulling Out Of Syria After A Week Of Confusion

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The U..S has started withdrawing troops from Syria on Friday, The New York Times reported, despite the Trump administration saying as recently as this week that they planned to handle it totally differently.


The U.S.-led, 79-nation coalition against ISIS has now begun "our deliberate withdrawal from Syria," The Times cited Col. Sean Ryan, the spokesman for the alliance, as saying.

He did not provide any more information about "specific timelines, locations or troop movements," The Times said. Business Insider has contacted the Department of Defense and the State Department for comment.

The news comes after weeks of chaotic mixed messages, which began when President Donald Trump announced his plan to pull the 2,000 U.S. troops out of Syria on December 19.

He said, inaccurately, that it was because ISIS had been "defeated."

Read more: Trump just radically upended US Syria policy despite repeated warnings that doing so could be disastrous

President Donald Trump, seen during a trip to Iraq last month, announced his plan to pull the 2,000 troops out of Syria on December 19(Associated Press/Andrew Harnik)

The president said he wanted the troops out in 30 days, but later rowed back his comments. His administration later lengthened the timeline for withdrawal.

The U.S. was hoping that Turkey would remain in Syria to fight the remnants of ISIS, which is not totally defeated, either in Syria or elsewhere.

That plan hit a snag earlier this week when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly insulted US National Security Advisor John Bolton, and said he would not play ball with the US plan.

Washington wanted assurances that Turkey would not attack Kurdish militants — alongside whom the US had been fighting, but whom Turkey considers terrorists — after the U.S. leaves.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that the U.S. would carry out with its withdrawal plans despite Erdogan and Bolton's disagreement, Reuters reported.

Unnamed defense officials also told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday: "Nothing has changed. We don't take orders from Bolton."

The decision to withdraw from Syria has been controversial even within the U.S. government.

Jim Mattis, the former US defense secretary, and Brett McGurk, the top U.S. official leading the coalition against ISIS, both resigned over it.

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Up to 1,000 U.S. troops could remain in Syria — more than twice as many as originally announced, according to the Wall Street Journal.

President Donald Trump initially announced in December that he would withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, but U.S. officials said in February that several hundred troops are expected to remain in Syria to create a "safe zone" along the border with Turkey and to man the al-Tanf garrison, which is located along a supply rote that would allow Iran to supply its proxies in Syria.

On Sunday, Dion Nissenbaum and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported that the U.S. military is considering leaving as many as 1,000 troops in Syria to prevent Turkey from attacking the United States' Kurdish allies. So far, the United States and Turkey have failed to agree on how to secure the proposed safe zone.

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