The U.S. has started withdrawal from military bases in the northeastern Syrian province of Al-Hasakah to northern Iraq.
The move comes following a recent troop pullout from the cities of Raqqah, Ayn Al-Arab (Kobani) and Ain Issa in northern Syria.
According to local sources, U.S. forces started late Sunday to withdraw troops from Ash Shaddadi, Life Stone (Istirahat Al-Wazir) and Mount Abdulaziz military bases and two other military points in the province occupied by the YPG/PKK terrorist group.
The troops were pulled out temporarily to Tal Beydar military base northwest of Al-Hasakah province before being moved to northern Iraq through Semalka border crossing.
Following the withdrawal, U.S. warplanes struck Mount Abdulaziz military base, which has radar systems, the sources said.
So far, the U.S. has evacuated four bases and two military points in Al-Hasakah province and is expected to withdraw soon from Rmelan, its last base in the province.
The U.S. forces have begun to withdraw from Syria shortly before Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure its border, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
No commitment with SDF on fighting NATO ally: US
The U.S. did not make any commitment with SDF in Syria to fight a longstanding NATO ally, the U.S. secretary of defense said on Monday.
“Fighting a longstanding ally (Turkey) was not part of our commitment with the SDF,” Mark Esper told a news conference in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, adding the commitment with the Kurds was to destroy Daesh, but any future commitment requires broader political framework.
The YPG/PKK terrorist group in Syria uses the acronym SDF as a cover for receiving U.S. support.
Esper said keeping some U.S. troops in northeastern Syria near oilfields is one of the options to deny Daesh revenue from those fields.
Turkey to resume operation if YPG/PKK does not withdraw
Turkey’s counter-terror operation in northern Syria will resume if YPG/PKK terror group does not withdraw from the region, said the country’s foreign minister on Monday.
“We have 35 hours left. If they don’t withdraw, our operation will resume. This is also what we agreed with the Americans,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said, in his opening speech at the TRT World Forum which kicked off in Istanbul.
Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
“If all the YPG/PKK elements withdraw from this region, we can halt the operation,” he said.
On Oct. 17, Turkey agreed to pause the operation for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the planned safe zone.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence also agreed on a 20-mile (32-kilometer) safe zone south of the Turkish border in Syria.
Cavusoglu reiterated that Turkey is against terrorist organizations, not Kurds, referring to the ongoing operation.
Turkey has never used chemical weapons in its history, he added, responding to a smear campaign by YPG/PKK supporters.
Ankara wants to clear east of the Euphrates River of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the YPG.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.