U.S. ‘weeks’ away from start of Syria withdrawal

With no answers for partners on the ground or US allies as to how the withdrawal will take place, US vows it is on track

By
February 11, 2019 04:25
2 minute read.
U.S. and Turkish soldiers conduct the first-ever combined joint patrol outside Manbij, Syria, Novemb

U.S. and Turkish soldiers conduct the first-ever combined joint patrol outside Manbij, Syria, November 1, 2018. Picture taken November 1, 2018. Courtesy Arnada Jones/U.S. . (photo credit: ARMY/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

The US is “on track” to withdraw from Syria, US Army General Joseph Votel said Sunday. The US is already taking out heavy equipment from Syria and the withdrawal of soldiers could begin in weeks.
 
Votel has been a key officer involved in the US role in Syria as head of Central Command. Asked on Sunday about the current US posture, he said that “it will all be driven by the situation on the ground.” In terms of withdrawing, “I think we’re right on track with where we wanted to be.” The comments leave many questions about US policy.
 
In mid-December, US President Donald Trump announced that the US would withdraw from Syria. He hammered home his decision in a speech to US troops in Iraq the day after Christmas.
 
However, pushback from key senators, such as Lindsey Graham, appeared to slow the withdrawal from three months to a longer period that might stretch into April. Reports indicated that the US might remain at a base called Tanf near the Jordanian border, and that it would ask European anti-ISIS coalition allies to pick up the slack as the US draws down.
 
Much of the US policy in Syria remains shrouded in fog as to what comes next. A meeting of the 79-member coalition in Washington on February 6 included many generalizations, but no specifics about what comes next. At the same time, the US held specific discussions with Turkey on a variety of working groups, and also with Arab allies, about Syria.
 
A delegation of the Syrian Democratic Council, led by Ilham Ahmad, was also in Washington for two weeks trying to encourage the US to slow its withdrawal or provide a no-fly zone and other guarantees that the US partners on the ground would be protected after the US withdraws.
 
The SDC is the civilian part of the Syrian Democratic Forces which have helped liberate much of eastern Syria from ISIS. The SDF is still engaged in tough fighting to defeat ISIS in its last pocked near the Iraqi border in southern Syria. Thousands of Syrians have fled the fighting and hundreds of foreign ISIS fighters and their families have been detained. Yet, the US withdrawal leaves questions about what will become of the foreign ISIS fighters, many of them accused of heinous crimes such as beheadings, enslavement of people and even burning people to death.
 
The US has offered no clear guidelines on how its withdrawal will take place. The SDC has encouraged a phased approach that would ensure less instability. Washington remains tight-lipped on whether it will leave in phases. Instead it is taking out heavy equipment.
 
“Moving people is easier than moving equipment,” Votel said. So “material” is leaving Syria, including things the US says it doesn’t need.
 
Over the last four years of the anti-ISIS fighting, the US has invested in some infrastructure in eastern Syria, including some small bases, observation points and airstrips. It has sent vehicles into eastern Syria as well as artillery.

Related Content

U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.
June 18, 2019
U.S. says to send more troops to the Middle East, cites Iran threats

By REUTERS

Cookie Settings