Equipment, not troops being moved out of Syria: Pentagon

2018 shows a line of US military vehicles in Syria's northern city of Manbij

Troops may not be coming home from Syria yet, but some equipment is.

The US military has removed some equipment from Syria, a defence official confirmed yesterday, following a report that the drawdown ordered by President Donald Trump is now underway.

Confirmation of the first withdrawals comes amid confusion over plans to implement Trump's pullout order and threats from Turkey to attack Kurdish fighters, who have been America's partners on the ground in the war against the Islamic State group in Syria.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that equipment was being moved out of Syria, a sign that despite mixed messages from Washington preparations for a withdrawal of troops was proceeding apace.

"We are not withdrawing troops at this stage", one United States defence official said.

Due to security concerns, the official would not describe exactly what the cargo was or whether it had been moved out by aircraft or ground vehicles.

This is a clarification after news reports early Friday that the USA has begun a "deliberate withdrawal" from Syria...

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a United Kingdom based war monitor, reported earlier that the US-led coalition in Syria had started scaling down its presence at Rmeilan airfield in the Hasakeh province of northeastern Syria.

The coalition, which also includes countries such as France and Britain, was formed in mid-2014 to counter ISIS, which had seized swathes of Iraq and Syria and proclaimed a "caliphate".

The battle against die-hard jihadists in remote areas along the Iraqi-Syrian border and the hunt for ISIS supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the world's most wanted man, could last indefinitely however.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also addressed the issue in a speech in Cairo on Thursday.

On an unannounced visit to troops stationed near the Syrian border Friday morning, Turkey's defense minister Hulusi Akar reiterated Ankara is "determined" to fight Kurdish militias it considers terrorists and said military preparations were ongoing. That earned a stiff rebuke from President Tayyip Erdogan. "The Trump Administration's foreign policy is as deeply flawed in its conception as it is dangerously incompetent in its execution", Schiff, who is the chairperson of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, tweeted.

Since Trump's announcement, senior members of his administration including Bolton and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo have frustrated Turkey by setting more specific conditions on what Trump initially suggested would be a quick withdrawal.

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