US official says troop withdrawal from Syria has started

1 2018 Turkish and U.S. troops conduct joint patrols around the Syrian town of Manbij as part of an agreement that aimed to ease tensions between the two NATO allies

The U.S. military has begun the process of withdrawing troops from Syria, a U.S. defense official confirmed to CBS News on Friday, saying it was expected to take between 90 and 120 days.

News of the first steps of a withdrawal come as the U.S.is negotiating with Turkey about guaranteeing protections for USA -allied Kurdish fighters.

On December 19, Donald Trump said he had ordered the withdrawal of all United States forces in Syria, which are believed to number around 2,000.

FILE - In this Wednesday, April 4, 2018 file photo, a US soldier, left, sits on an armored vehicle behind a sand barrier at a newly installed position near the front line between the U.S-backed Syrian Manbij Military Council and the Turkish-backed fighters, in Manbij, north Syria.

Speaking in Cairo on Thursday, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo tried to dispel confusion, saying the USA would continue to fight Islamic State as it withdraws and that "the United States will use diplomacy and work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot, and work through the UN-led process to bring peace and stability to the long-suffering Syrian people". "Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements", Ryan said.

The CNN report added that officials it had previously spoken to said the Pentagon wants to signal to the president it is working towards his goals following his withdrawal decision last month.

This is a developing story.

Also heading to the region is a group of naval vessels led by the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship.

President Trump shocked nearly everyone - from Congress and the Pentagon, to America's allies and enemies around the world - when he announced the pullout, arguing that the U.S. was "getting nothing" from its involvement in the country. But the peace and stability of areas USA forces withdraw from "must be guaranteed", she added.

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Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar reviews an honor guard as he arrives for a meeting with the commanders of military units on Syrian border in Sanliurfa, southeastern Turkey, Jan. 11, 2019. US Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned soon after the announcement.

America's operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the country were to continue during the withdrawal process.

A senior Kurdish politician said the Kurds are aware of the US beginning its withdraw process, describing it as "America's decision".

She charged that the USA appeared to be "looking for a reason to stay" in Syria.

Earlier this week, Bolton's calls for the protection of the YPG Syrian Kurdish militia as a condition for a Syrian withdrawal angered Turkey.

On Sunday, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said American troops would not leave northeastern Syria until ISIS is defeated and the American-allied Kurdish fighters are protected.

"Let me be clear: America will not retreat until the terror fight is over", he said, adding, "For our part, our airstrikes in the region will continue as targets arise", he said in a speech at the American University in Cairo.

Media reports on Thursday said a draft paper outlining United States plans for withdrawing from Syria included leaving troops in place at a position near the Iraqi and Jordanian border.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow Friday, she said it appears to Moscow that the U.S.

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