WSJ: Military Going Ahead With Syria Withdrawal Plans

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The U.S. military is going ahead with plans for a withdraw of all American troops from Syria despite a shifting timetable, and a U.S.-Turkey rift that might delay the pullout, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Citing unnamed defense officials, the Journal reported the Pentagon has not gotten any new direction than the pullout directive issued in December – and until it does, withdrawal plans are proceeding.

“Nothing has changed,” one defense official told the Journal, adding: “We don’t take orders from [National Security Adviser John] Bolton.”

The reference was to Bolton’s remarks this week the United States would not exit Syria until Turkey promised not to target U.S. Kurdish partners.

The Journal reported that to account for shifts in plans, the military is staging personnel and equipment needed for a possible withdrawal, rather than move American forces out. Ironically, troops that are designated to help with the eventual withdrawal already are in the area, adding more more troops in the vicinity now than before President Donald Trump announced the Syria withdrawal in December.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday there is “no contradiction whatsoever” in the administration’s Syria strategy, the Journal reported, declaring the withdrawal will take place.

But the Journal reported the Pentagon execution order directing the withdrawal could be modified as details of the withdrawal plan are sorted out, noting the existing order did not include a date for the troops’ exit.

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