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U.S. military announces start of Syria troop withdrawal

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By Louisa Loveluck Louisa Loveluck Reporter in The Washington Post‘s Beirut bureau, focusing on Syria. Email Bio Follow January 11 at 6:02 AM BEIRUT — The U.S. military said Friday it has begun withdrawing troops from Syria, initiating a drawdown that has blindsided allies and sparked a scramble for control of the areas that American troops will leave.

U.S. forces have “begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria,” a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State said in a statement emailed to reporters. “Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troop movements.”

Separately, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said sources in Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah reported the departure of about 10 armored vehicles from a military base in the town of Rmelan late Thursday.

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That report could not be independently confirmed Friday morning, and it was unclear whether the movement indicated a drawdown or just a planned rotation.

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President Trump’s announcement that he was moving to disentangle U.S. troops from Syria’s seven-year war prompted widespread confusion, with administration officials offering different timelines for its completion. 

Representatives of the Kurdish-led coalition that has spearheaded Washington’s fight against the Islamic State did not respond to requests for comment. 

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