WASHINGTON: The US-led military coalition in Syria has begun pulling out troops, a spokesman said on Friday without elaborating on locations or timetables.
"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-extremist 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 notheastern province of Hasakeh.
"On Thursday, some American forces withdrew from the Rmeilan military base in Hasakeh province," 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 full troop withdrawal from Syria last month, he said.
On December 19, Trump said he had ordered the withdrawal of all US forces in Syria, which are believed to number around 2,000.
His announcement, which came after a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was criticised even within his own camp and is already having major repercussions on the nearly eight-year-old conflict.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Friday talks between the US military and its Turkish counterparts on the Kurds and Syria will continue next week, in the hopes of producing results both countries accept.
Bolton, in a radio interview, said he, President Donald Trump, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo understood Turkey had committed "not to harm the Kurds who had fought with us against ISIS."
Bolton had suggested on Tuesday that protecting Washington's Kurdish allies would be a pre-condition of the US withdrawal troops from Syria, which began earlier on Friday. That drew a rebuke from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who called his comments "a serious mistake."
"What we’re still pursuing in these military-to-military conversations are assurances and protocols and procedures so that everybody feels comfortable with how this is going to happen. And we’re hoping those discussions, which will continue next week, will produce results that are acceptable on both sides," he said in an interview with Hugh Hewitt, according to a transcript.