Led coalition says Syria withdrawal has begun

US senator 'sensitive' to Turkish concerns over YPG  PKK

Meanwhile, in another sign of deteriorating relations between Ankara and Washington, Cavusoglu said a military operation Turkey was planning against USA -backed Kurdish militia in northern Syria did not depend on a withdrawal of US troops from Syria.

The coalition "has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria".

Representatives of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a military coalition dominated by Kurdish fighters, declined to comment Friday, suggesting instead that the USA military should explain its plans.

Russia, which has deployed forces into Syria in support of the Damascus government, said on Friday it had the impression that the United States wanted to stay despite the announced withdrawal of USA troops, RIA news agency reported. "Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troop movements", Colonel Sean Ryan said.

The order to withdraw American troops from Syria had been signed, after President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart agreed to prevent a power vacuum in the wake of the controversial move.

This is a developing story.

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In a rare acknowledgment that French troops were also in Syria, he said they would leave when there is a political solution in the country.

The news that a withdrawal had begun was confirmed on Thursday by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in the United Kingdom, which monitors activity in the war-town country through a network of activists.

News of the first steps of a withdrawal come as the U.S.is negotiating with Turkey about guaranteeing protections for US -allied Kurdish fighters.

The YPG is a crucial ally in Washington's war against Islamic State but is considered by Ankara as a terrorist group linked to an insurgency inside Turkey.

"The Americans have a right to make decisions that are in their country's security and national interests", said Ilham Ahmed, who co-chairs the US -backed Syrian Democratic Council in northeast Syria. They're taking place even as Erdogan says his military is prepared for a possible operation in northern Syria.

Turkey dismissed that condition, and Pompeo said the withdrawal would continue. The lira fell sharply Tuesday on fears of renewed U.S. They described the draw-down at the base, held by US forces for the past two years, as "slow and steady". Trump administration officials also have argued that the USA needs to stay in Syria to counter Iran's presence there. For years Trump has criticized US deployment in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Russia, the Syrian government's most vital ally, would be happy to see the USA pull out entirely of the war-torn country, where it has military bases and a significant troop presence.

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