US-coalition spokesperson confirms the drawdown ordered by President Trump is now underway. However, it's unclear what the equipment is going, or from which parts of Syria it's being removed.

US military vehicles in Syria's northern city of Manbij on December 30, 2018.
US military vehicles in Syria's northern city of Manbij on December 30, 2018. (AFP)

The US-led coalition against Daesh has started the process of withdrawing from Syria, a spokesman said on Friday.

The coalition "has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria. Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troop movements," Colonel Sean Ryan said.

Earlier on Friday, a Pentagon official, who spoke to Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity, said, "I'm confirming that some of the equipment has started being pulled out of Syria". The official refused to elaborate upon what type of equipment was removed or which areas the movement was taking place in because of operational concerns.

A Department of Defense official also confirmed the development to AFP on Thursday.

"I can confirm the movement of equipment from Syria," the official said. "For security reasons, I am not going to provide further details at this time."

Trump's shock announcement on December 19 that he was withdrawing all 2,000 American troops from the conflict-wracked Middle Eastern country concerned allies and prompted the resignation of his then-defence chief Jim Mattis.

Since then, however, administration officials appear to have walked back considerably and the current envisaged timetable is unclear. 

The removal of the equipment in recent days was first reported by CNN, which quoted an administration official with direct knowledge of the operation as saying it signalled the beginning of US withdrawal from the Middle Eastern country.

CNN reported earlier that the US Central Command (CENTCOM) has identified ships, aircraft and ground units that will be used in the operation.  

The official quoted by CNN would not describe exactly what the cargo was or how it was being transported.

They also did not say what part of Syria it came from, though it is expected the drawdown would begin in the country's north.

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.

Though the removal of troops is not on the cards immediately, withdrawing equipment is a means of showing progress towards this goal, it added.

Speaking in Egypt on Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed the troop pullout from Syria would go ahead.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies