Mattis signs order to withdraw troops from Syria

The Pentagon has said the order for the withdrawal of USA troops from Syria has been signed following President Donald Trump's December 19 announcement setting out plans for a full pullout, US media are reporting.

The military last week threatened another incursion against YPG, this time vowing to eliminate the fighters from all of northeastern Syria, where about 2,000 US special forces have operated, helping in the fight against IS and serving as a buffer in Turkish-Kurdish clashes.

Trump last week ordered a complete troop pullout from Syria, asserting that the Islamic State group had been defeated, and a significant withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Turkey deployed hundreds of troops near a Kurdish stronghold in Syria Sunday, in the wake of the United States announcing plans to withdraw from the country.

Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke by telephone on Sunday and "agreed to ensure coordination between their countries' military, diplomatic and other officials to avoid a power vacuum which could result following any abuse of the withdrawal and transition phase in Syria", the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

"The execute order for Syria has been signed", a United States military spokesperson told Agence France-Presse on Sunday in response to a query, without providing further details.

Mr Trump said on Twitter.

Turkey's armed forces have led two offensives into Syria since 2016 to push Islamic State militants and Kurdish forces back from the border.

Hours earlier Trump had tweeted that he and Erdogan "discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of US troops from the area".


"To be an ally is to fight shoulder to shoulder", Macron said, adding that France was doing just that in Chad in the fight against jihadist groups.

"To be an ally is to fight shoulder to shoulder", he said, "paying tribute" to outgoing Secretary Mattis, who he called a "reliable partner".

He said the US -led coalition provided airstrikes in support of the Kurdish fighters, who control only 35 percent of the region.

Turkey has long criticized the USA for training and arming the YPG, which it says is linked to domestic terrorists it has fought for more than three decades.

Trump, reportedly annoyed at Mattis' criticism, booted him out early, opting to promote the deputy secretary to acting secretary instead of waiting to nominate and receive approval for a replacement.

Iraqis are anxious that a resurgent ISIS could seep through the border that the militants obliterated when they swept across Syria and Iraq in 2014.

The Turkish president also wished a happy new year to the U.S. president and American people.

Also on ABC; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joined leading Republicans on foreign affairs in urging Trump to withhold a final decision for 90 days, saying withdrawal would be "a premature and costly mistake".


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