US-Led Coalition Begins Withdrawal Of Troops From Syria


Hasakeh: 

The US-led coalition in Syria has begun withdrawing its troops, a spokesman said Friday, less than a month after US President Donald Trump made his shock announcement.

The force which has battled the ISIS group since 2014 started scaling down but it remained unclear how long the drawdown process would last.

“CJTF-OIR has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria,” spokesman Colonel Sean Ryan told AFP in a statement, referring to the US-led anti-ISIS force.

“Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements,” he said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the coalition had started scaling down its presence at Rmeilan airfield in the Hasakeh province in northeastern Syria.

“On Thursday, some American forces withdrew from the Rmeilan military base,” Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based monitoring organisation, said.

“This is the first such pullout of American forces since the US president’s announcement” of a military withdrawal from Syria last month, he said.

The US-led coalition has several other bases across northeastern Syria, as well as in neighbouring Iraq, where Trump has said his forces would remain.

A US defence official in Washington had earlier confirmed to AFP that equipment was being removed from Syria.

Pompeo visit

The US-led coalition, which also includes countries such as France and Britain, was formed in mid-2014 to counter the expansion of the ISIS group after it proclaimed its self-styled “caliphate”.

Trump claimed last month that the ISIS had been defeated and that US troops could therefore come home.

Fighter jets and special forces have played a key role in efforts to claw back the territory lost to ISIS.

A Kurdish-led group, the Syrian Democratic Forces, is currently flushing out the very last pockets of land controlled by the ISIS in the Euphrates River Valley.

The beginning of the drawdown coincided with a visit to the Middle East by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who insisted in Cairo Thursday that the withdrawal would go ahead despite widespread criticism.

Earlier this week, US National Security Advisor John Bolton laid out conditions for the pullout, including the defeat of the ISIS in Syria and guarantees for the safety of Washington’s Kurdish allies in the campaign, who have been threatened with an imminent offensive by Turkey.

Bolton’s comments were widely seen as backtracking on Trump’s announcement, including by Turkey which described them as “unacceptable”.

The battle against die-hard ISIS in remote areas along the Iraqi-Syrian border and the hunt for ISIS supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the world’s most wanted man, could last indefinitely however.

Anti-ISIS fight

And the Kurdish militia which has spearheaded the ground battle against the ISIS group is left exposed to a Turkish offensive by the US withdrawal.

The People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian offshoot of the PKK group which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, has already started cosying up to Damascus and its Russian sponsor.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist announcement and has repeatedly threatened to move into Syria to create a buffer zone along the border.

Critics of Trump’s decision, including within his own Republican camp, have said that a precipitous withdrawal would shatter US policy in Syria and allow ISIS to rebuild.

They have also argued that it would further allow Damascus ally Iran to extend its influence across Syria and potentially threaten Israel.

Since his surprise announcement last month, Trump has stressed any withdrawal would be coordinated, gradual and “prudent”.

But observers have stressed that the announcement of the withdrawal was having the same impact in reshuffling the cards of the conflict as the withdrawal itself.

“The damage is done. On the ground, the announcement of the pullout is as if they were already gone,” said Fabrice Balanche, a geographer and Syria expert.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





Source link

US-Led Coalition Destroys Syrian Mosque Used As ISIS Command Centre


Washington: 

The US-led coalition in Syria destroyed on Saturday a mosque in the town of Hajin which had been used as an ISIS command and control center, the US military said.

Hajin is the last big town that the ISIS holds in its remaining enclave east of the Euphrates River. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, spearheaded by the Kurdish militia, have battled to eliminate the terrorists there for several months.

The US coalition said that 16 heavily armed ISIS fighters were using the mosque as a base to attack. “This strike killed these terrorists who presented an imminent threat, and eliminated another deadly ISIS operational capability from the battlefield,” the US military said in a statement.

Lilwa al-Abdallah, spokeswoman for the offensive in eastern Deir al-Zor province, said on Friday that the coalition would soon re-take Hajin.

ISIS lost nearly all the territory it once held in Syria last year in separate offensives by the US-backed SDF on the one hand, and the Russian-backed Syrian army on the other.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





Source link

US-Led Coalition Strikes Kill 14 Civilians In East Syria: Monitor


Beirut: 

At least 14 civilians were killed Saturday in US-led coalition air strikes on the ISIS’ last holdout in eastern Syria, a monitor said.

“Fourteen civilians, including five children under the age of 18, were killed in the coalition air raids on the villages of Hajin, Sousa and Al-Shaafa” in eastern Deir Ezzor province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“The death toll is likely to rise due to the number of seriously wounded,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

At least 9 ISIS jihadists were killed in the raids, he added.

The coalition was not immediately available for comment.

Strikes on the area intensified following an attempted jihadist attack on a coalition base in the nearby village of Al-Bahra, the Britain-based monitor said.

ISIS overran large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in land it controlled.

But the jihadist group has since lost most of its territory to various offensives in both countries.

In Syria, the group has seen its presence reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and a pocket in Deir Ezzor that contains Hajin, Sousa and Al-Shaafa.

A Kurdish-Arab alliance backed by the coalition launched an offensive in September to wrest the Deir Ezzor pocket from IS.

But on Wednesday the alliance, the Syrian Democratic Forces, suspended its fight against the jihadists after Turkish forces fired on the group’s positions.

The coalition estimates that 2,000 ISIS fighters remain in the Hajin pocket.

A total of more than 360,000 people have been killed since Syria’s war erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.





Source link

China Says US-Led Trade War Biggest Confidence Killer For World Economy


Donald Trump has also hit European metal imports with tariffs. (File)

Beijing, China: 

The US-driven trade war has become the biggest “confidence killer” for the global economy, China’s foreign ministry warned on Wednesday, saying the whole world would fight back if the United States continued to be “wilful”.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a regular press briefing that the United States is fabricating all kinds of justifications for its trade actions, including that of national security.

Earlier this month the United States and China slapped tariffs on $34 billion of each other’s imports in an escalating trade tussle that has roiled financial markets.

US President Donald Trump has threatened further tariffs unless Beijing agrees to change its intellectual property practices and high-technology industrial subsidy plans.

Trump has also hit European metal imports with tariffs and has threatened to curb car imports from Europe with a 20 percent duty.

“The US trade war is not just with China but with the rest of the world. By regarding the rest of the world as adversaries, the US has dragged the entire global economy into a place of danger,” Hua said.

The European Commission last week cut its forecasts for the euro zone’s economic growth this year, saying the main causes for the revision were trade tensions with the United States as well as higher oil prices.

China’s economy grew at a slower pace in the second quarter, data on Monday showed, with Beijing’s trade dispute with Washington challenging the growth outlook for the world’s second-biggest economy.

“If the US continues to be wilful, countries around the world will only harden their resolve to hit back,” Hua said.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





Source link

US-Led Coalition Denies Bombing Pro-Regime Position In East Syria


While Syrian state media has blamed US for the strike, the US has denied the claim. (Representational)

Beirut:  Syrian state media said on Monday that U.S.-led coalition aircraft had bombed “one of our military positions” in eastern Syria, leading to deaths and injuries, but the U.S. military denied carrying out strikes in the area.

The strike took place in al-Harra, southeast of Albu Kamal, Syrian state media said citing a military source. There were no immediate details on casualties.

A commander in the military alliance backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also told Reuters that drones, “probably American,” bombed positions of Iraqi factions between Albu Kamal and Tanf, as well as Syrian military positions.

“No member of the US-led coalition carried out strikes near Albu Kamal,” Major Josh Jacques, a US Central Command spokesman, told Reuters.

With air power and special forces, the US-led coalition is supporting an alliance of Syrian Arab and Kurdish forces fighting ISIS northeast of Albu Kamal.

US forces are also based in Tanf, southwest of Albu Kamal in the Syrian desert near the borders of Iraq and Jordan.

The Syrian army, alongside Iran-backed forces including Lebanon’s lezbollah and Iraqi groups, drove ISIS from Albu Kamal and its environs last year, but the terrorists have since staged attacks in the area.

“Occupying Forces”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said unidentified planes had struck Shi’ite Hezbollah and other foreign forces allied to the Syrian state around Albu Kamal.

The UK-based war monitor said the strikes killed 40 people. Reuters could not independently verify the Observatory’s report of casualties.

Asked about the reported air strikes, an Israeli military spokeswoman said: “We do not comment on foreign reports.”

Throughout Syria’s seven-year war, Israeli officials have disclosed scores of air strikes within the neighbouring country against suspected arms transfers to Hezbollah or Iranian deployments.

Israel, alarmed about the clout of arch enemies Iran and Hezbollah, has been pressing Russia, Assad’s other key ally, to make sure they do not entrench their military sway in Syria.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet he had “repeated and clarified” his Syriapolicy in weekend phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“First of all, Iran must clear out of all of Syria,” Netanyahu said on Sunday, according to a statement from his office. “Secondly, we will take action, and are already taking action, against the attempted military entrenchment of Iran and its proxies, both close to the border and deep withinSyria.”

In an interview last week, Assad called Hezbollah “a basic element” in the war and said “the need for these military forces will continue for a long time.”

He said the United States was an occupying power in Syria and that his state supports “any act of resistance, whether against terrorists or against occupying forces, regardless of their nationality.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





Source link