The troops of the United States entered Iraq after withdrawal from Syria, making a representative end to the main American existence in the region. CNN shared a video on its official website showing U.S. personnel traveling in the number of armored vehicles and SUVs on a Dohuk street in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Also, the vehicles adorned with flags of the United States, loaded with equipment as they drove through the Sahela bridge at the Walid border crossing. They were moving towards the direction of Mosul, though their final destination is unclear.
The United States started its biggest troop withdrawal from Syria on Sunday in the wake of the military offensive of Turkey to push away the Kurd forces from its border area. In addition, an official of the United States told CNN that about five-hundred U.S. troops were part of the military convoy moving over northern Syria Sunday. The convoy departed an airfield outside Kobani of Syria. Military officials said that the United States had around one thousand soldiers in Syria at the beginning of the offensive. Mark Esper, the Secretary of Defense, describes that those military forces are withdrawing with the help of helicopters, ground convoys, and fixed-wing aircraft and will reposition into western Iraq.
Esper said that the American troops deployed on two missions, one is to perform a counter-ISIS mission, and the second is to help defend Iraq. Furthermore, he said that the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces would take some weeks.
Kurd Forces Leave Border Town
As United Forces started their withdrawal from Syria, the troops of Kurd from Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) evacuated from the main border town of Ras al-Ain as part of a United States-brokered ceasefire deal with Turkey. Kino Gabriel, the spokesperson of SDF, stated that all of the fighters, if the Kurdish-led group had left the embattled center. The statement also said that they do not have more troops in the city. In short, the ceasefire deal of 120-hour brokered between Vice President of United States Mike Pence and President of Turkey Tayyip Erdogan calls for the withdrawal of SDF troops from what Turkey termed as a “safe zone” across its border in northeast Syria.
Turkish Government claim about Agreement
Turkish President earned that offensive of Turkey would resume if the United States doesn’t deliver on its assurance to get out the Syrian Kurd fighters from the area by Tuesday night. Moreover, the government of Turkey claims that the deal is only a pause on operations in the area to allow the fighters of Kurds to leave, and not a ceasefire. Turkey considers the People’s Protection Units (YPG) of Kurds that build the backbone of the SDF to be in the Syrian extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The United States and Turkey categorize the PKK as a terrorist organization.
Dozens of injured people were evacuated from Ras al-Ain on Saturday in a humanitarian group after permission of entrance in the besieged town. The Syrian Democratic Forces previously charged Turkey or the Free Syrian Army (FSA) with hindering the evacuation of their civilians, fighters, and the wounded from the town. However, the Ministry of Defense of Turkey stated on Sunday that there hasn’t any barrier, and the process of evacuation closely coordinated with counterparts of the United States. David Eubanks, the aid worker of the Free Burma Rangers, spoke to CNN in a phone call. He said that they tried for many days; at last, a door of the humanitarian corridor opened, and they surprised. Checkpoint of FSA let them pass, and they go directly into the hospital, evacuated thirty-seven, and few of the dead.
Violations about Ceasefire
On Saturday, the Syrian Democratic Forces accused Turkey of continuously violating the ceasefire agreement and urged the administration of Trump to implement the creation of a humanitarian corridor. In a statement, it said that attacks from the military of Turkey and Turkish-backed militants resulted in sixteen deaths and three wounded in their ranks in a period of 24-hour. According to the statement, the Turkish forces, along with their allies, continued to attack the villages of Syria in spite of agreeing to the ceasefire. It added, the force of Turkey targeted the villages nearby Ras al-Ain with the help of aerial bombardments and deployed more troops and preparations for the ceasefire areas.
The Defense Minister of Turkey accused the SDF of twenty cases of harassment fire and violations of the 5-day contract. The ministry said in a statement that on early Sunday, Antitank fire and light weapon killed one Turkish fighter and another wounded. The statement added, they responded sympathetically within the right to self-defense. Esper said while speaking to reporters aboard a military aircraft of U.S. en route to Afghanistan, and the ceasefire usually seems to be holding in spite reports of intermittent firs. He would not say who was doing those violations.
In the meantime, the President of the United States Donald Trump reportedly orientated toward approving a new plan of Pentagon to keep a small contingent of United States troops in eastern Syria, New York Times reported. The NY Times cited a senior official of administration as saying there might two-hundred Special Operations forces remaining in Syria to fight ISIS and block the advance of Russian forces and Syrian government into the oil fields of the region. White House didn’t respond to the request of CNN to comment on the issue.
Ilham Ahmed, the Kurdish leader, reached Washington
Ilham Ahmed, the leader of Kurd, landed in Washington, DC, on late Sunday. His office stated that he would meet the administration of Trump and other officials to talk about the future of northern Syria. Ahmed is the head of the Executive Committee of the SDC (Syrian Democratic Council) and a Syrian-Kurdish politician.