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A line of US military vehicles in Syria's northern city of Manbij A line of US military vehicles in Syria's northern city of Manbij  (AFP or licensors)

US begins Syria withdrawal but troops remain

It has emerged that the US military has started moving non-essential equipment out of Syria - but troops will remain in the country, for now.

By Nathan Morley

US media have been reporting that the withdrawal of American military ground equipment from Syria is already underway.

But, it remains unclear when troops might leave, as no timetable has been published. The United States currently has about 2,000 troops stationed in the country.

Early Saturday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with his Turkish counterpart to discuss the situation.

In particular, Washington has demanded that Kurds be protected after US soldiers depart, it’s a request which has been roundly rejected by Ankara.

The American military detachments in Syria are made up of mostly special operations forces and have been working closely with Kurdish groups like the People's Protection Units, or YPG, which are considered terrorist organizations by the Turks.

Pompeo had earlier insisted there had been no contradiction in the shifting US strategy in Syria or confusion about it.

The US pullout has angered Syrian Kurdish officials, who are worried it could create yet another conflict in the country.

In a separate development, the Syrian state news agency claims Israeli jets struck an ammunition warehouse at Damascus airport, few other details are available.

Listen to Nathan Morley's report
12 January 2019, 17:46