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US Officials Say Troop Withdrawal From Syria Has Started

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US Officials Say Troop Withdrawal From Syria Has Started

US Officials Say Troop Withdrawal From Syria Has Started

It has begun: The U.S. military has started withdrawing troops from Syria, a U.S. defense official confirmed to CBS News on Friday, saying it was expected to take between 90 and 120 days.

RELATED: The U.S. Reportedly Plans To Pull All Its Troops From Syria As Trump Declares Victory Over ISIS

Equipment had already begun moving out earlier this week, the official told CBS News senior national security correspondent David Martin. 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 movements of the 2,000 troops but confirmed that it is happening.

“Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements,” the Baghdad-based official said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.

Trump made the abrupt decision back in December after declaring the defeat of ISIS in a tweet. His big move sent shockwaves across the region and a big wave of criticism from some of his generals and national security advisers and led to the resignation of U.S. Defense Minister James Mattis and the top U.S. envoy to the anti-IS coalition. It also led to major criticism that the U.S. was abandoning its local Kurdish allies amid Turkish threats of an imminent attack.

Despite this, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday that American troops will not leave northeastern Syria until ISIS is officially defeated and U.S.-backed Kurds were protected. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also sought to reassure the Kurds they will be safe after the U.S. completely pulls out.

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