Led coalition says Syria troop withdrawal has begun

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

A spokesperson for the USA -led coalition against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) said the withdrawal had gone ahead despite mixed messages from the White House over the fate of the 2,000 troops operating in the country.

Confirmation of the first withdrawals comes amid confusion over plans to implement President Donald Trump's pullout order and threats from Turkey to attack the Kurds, who have been America's partners on the ground in the war against ISIS in Syria.

A USA official told ABC News that in recent days military equipment has been moved out of Syria into Iraq.

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

Hours earlier, Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman for the US -led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, said "the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria" has started.

On Friday a spokesman said the coalition "has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria".

This is a developing story.

'We're going to be discussing the president's decision to withdraw, but to do so from northeast Syria in a way that makes sure that ISIS is defeated and is not able to revive itself and become a threat again, ' Bolton said when meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict in Syria through a network of activists on the ground, said the withdrawal began Thursday night.

National security adviser John Bolton said Sunday that US troops would not leave the region until ISIS is defeated and the Kurdish allied fighters are protected. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government considers the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria to be a terrorist organization linked to Kurdish separatist groups within Turkey.

President Trump blindsided global and regional allies, such as the YPG, on December 19 when he announced he would bring US troops home. They're taking place even as Erdogan says his military is prepared for a possible operation in northern Syria.

In his speech at the American University in Cairo on Thursday, the secretary of state said the USA would continue working with coalition partners to defeat ISIS and would continue air strikes against terrorist targets in the region.

Questions have swirled around the withdrawal order since Trump made the unexpected announcement last month.

The White House may not have yet publicly altered its criteria for withdrawal, but certainly something has changed. They described the draw-down at the base, held by US forces for the past two years, as "slow and steady".

A US military official spoke Friday of the withdrawal process, but declined to comment on specific timetables or movements.

But after the resignations of Mattis and McGurk and amid a wave of bipartisan criticism in Washington, Trump hinted at a longer timeframe.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow Friday, she said it appears to Moscow that the U.S. Erdogan snubbed Bolton when he visited Ankara earlier this week, instead giving a political speech that criticized the national security adviser.

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