Pentagon spokesman Commander Sean Robertson said that the US troop pullout from Syria is not subject to an arbitrary timeline, but depends on operational circumstances on the ground, including Washington’s allies.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat that the forces were indeed beginning to prepare for the withdrawal. He did not, however, disclose a timeline for it.
The US will continue to provide support for the coalition operation in Syria as it pulls out its troops in a coordinated process to ensure the safety of the American forces, he added.
The US will continue to work with allies and partners to ensure the defeat of ISIS through preserving military gains and bolstering regional security and stability, Robertson said.
The mission has not changed, he remarked, as the joint forces, American troops and regional partners will continue to pursue the last remaining ISIS pockets.
Moreover, he stressed that even after US troops leave the region, the US war against ISIS will not end. Washington will continue to strike suspected ISIS locations.
US President Donald Trump’s announcement last month that he had decided to withdraw 2,000 US troops stunned allies that have joined Washington in the battle against ISIS in Syria.
The US pullout has been clouded by mixed messages from Washington.
The US-led coalition battling ISIS added to the confusion on Friday by saying it had started the pullout process, but officials later clarified that only equipment, not troops, were being withdrawn.
After media reports suggesting the departure of US forces had begun, the Pentagon later said no troops had yet withdrawn and stressed that the battle against ISIS was continuing as US-backed forces try to capture the group's last remaining pockets of territory in Syria.
"We will confirm that there has been no redeployment of military personnel from Syria to date," said Robertson.
US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that equipment was being moved out of Syria, a sign that despite mixed messages from Washington preparations for a withdrawal of troops was proceeding apace, said Reuters.
Robertson, in his statement, said the coalition had carried out "logistical measures" to support a withdrawal but did not enter into details.