Led coalition says Syria withdrawal has begun

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Masoud Barzani leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in the province's capital Arbil during a Middle East tour

Colonel Sean Ryan, spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State, said the process of removing troops for the country had started.

President Donald Trump announced last month the decision to withdraw 2,000 U.S. troops who have deployed to Syria in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia, which have spearheaded the fight against the IS group.

"Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements".

"On Thursday, some American forces withdrew from the Rmeilan military base in Hassakeh province", said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based war monitor, which relies on reports from activists on the ground.

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.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday there is "no contradiction whatsoever" in the administration's Syria strategy, the Journal reported, declaring the withdrawal will take place.

The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, which had been moored in Crete, is leading a group of vessels towards the eastern Mediterranean to support the 2,000 USA troops as they leave the Kurdish-majority part of northeastern Syria, Pentagon officials told The Wall Street Journal.

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"These have been folks that have fought with us and it's important that we do everything we can to ensure that those folks that fought with us are protected", Pompeo said of the Kurds while visiting Erbil, the capital of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, after talks in Baghdad. Russia, the Syrian government's most vital ally, would be happy to see the US pull out entirely of the war-torn country, where it has military bases and a significant troop presence.

President Trump shocked nearly everyone - from Congress and the Pentagon, to America's allies and enemies around the world - when he announced the pullout, arguing that the United States was "getting nothing" from its involvement in the country.

Kurdish officials, meanwhile, have demanded clarifications from the USA over its intentions. Turkey views the dominant Syrian Kurdish groups as a national security threat.

US Central Command has come up with an execution plan in order to safely withdraw troops there, officials tell CNN.

Shortly after Trump's announcement, some USA officials began to walk it back.

The decision has injected new uncertainties into the eight-year long Syrian war and a flurry of contacts over how a resulting security vacuum will be filled across a swathe of northern and eastern Syria where the USA forces are stationed. Syria's deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday he was optimistic about renewed dialogue with the Kurds.

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