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U.S. starts withdrawing troops from Syria amid policy confusion

U.S. starts withdrawing troops from Syria amid policy confusion

The U.S. military began the process of withdrawing its troops from Syria following a drawdown ordered by President Donald Trump, a military official said Friday.

Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the U.S.-coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, declined to discuss specific operational details of the pullout such as timings and troop movements, but said in an email the withdrawal was underway.

About 2,000 U.S. troops are in Syria.

The development comes as White House national security adviser John Bolton appeared to contradict Trump’s order when he said the withdrawal would not be immediate, it would not happen before ISIS is fully defeated and it would be contingent on a pledge by Turkey not to attack the U.S.’s Kurdish military allies in Syria.

None of Bolton’s conditions have been met.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to meet with Bolton during his visit to Turkey this week and described his conditions for the U.S. troop drawdown as a “grave mistake.” Turkey considers some members of a Syrian-Kurdish Arab coalition fighting ISIS alongside U.S. troops to be terrorists and has applauded Trump’s decision.

Turkey has amassed thousands of troops along its border with Syria and has long threatened to unilaterally attack Kurdish militias who it claims have ties to separatist groups who have carried out assassinations and bombings…

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