Order to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria signed

According to United States media, Trump voiced resentment over news coverage of Mattis' stinging resignation letter that laid bare his fundamental disagreements with the president.

No details were given on how and when the pullout of some 2,500 troops will take place.

U.S. President Donald Trump's abrupt decision has upended American policy in the region and set Turkey up for a broad push against Syrian Kurdish YPG forces across its border.

Many opponents say a quick departure by USA forces would represent a betrayal to Kurdish allies who could be at the mercy of nearby Turkish forces.

In contrast with Trump's claim that the Islamic State (IS) group has been defeated in Syria, Pentagon officials had stressed earlier this year that the fight against IS isn't over.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Ankara would launch a third operation against the YPG and the last remaining elements of IS in Syria in the coming months.

On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed his threats to target Kurdish fighters as he sent more troops to the border with Syria ahead of an imminent USA withdrawal.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr.

"The execute order for Syria has been signed", a US defense official confirmed to VOA, adding, "I am not going to provide more operational details at this time".

He noted that Ankara does not trust Washington, which supports the Kurdish forces in Syria along the Turkish southern border. Turkey, Iran and regional Arab powers also fear the Kurds finally establishing a state of their own and forging a military alliance with Israel.

Russian Federation is widely seen as the only actor capable of protecting Kurdish forces in Syria from a Turkish assault after the USA withdraws its forces.

US mulling complete withdrawal of troops from Syria
A senior Kurdish official said Wednesday that they were holding an "emergency meeting" to plan next steps. American troops also have a smaller ground presence in southern Syria along the border with Jordan.

The town of Manbij has been one area of friction between the USA and Turkey, which has vowed to clear the area of the YPG.

Donald Trump said Sunday he had discussed Syria and "the slow & highly coordinated pullout of USA troops from the area" in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Mr Hammoud said that fighters of the Syrian National Army are now waiting for orders from Turkish command and explained that a timeline for the offensive is contingent on agreements between Ankara and Washington.

He said up to 15,000 Syrian fighters trained in Turkey are ready to take part in the operation. He said the initial focus was on Manbij and areas just across the nearby Euphrates River.

"I've encouraged him to find people who have some overlap with him but don't see the world in lockstep with him", Mulvaney said. But the extremists are largely confined to a remote desert enclave hundreds of miles (kilometres) to the southeast of Manbij. SDF officials have said they may have no choice but to release more than 1,000 prisoners and their families unless they are somehow able to work out a deal with the Syrian government.

American forces are still stationed in and around the town of Manbij.

Turkey ensured the security in the Jarabulus city of northern Syria and Afrin, northwestern Syrian city, the president said. But, he added, "Having that letter be so long and philosophical, reading nearly as a manifesto of sorts, and then aggressively pushing it out to media outlets shortly after delivery came across as little more than a shot at redemption and a chance to get ahead of Trump's spin".

Clark, a frequent critic of the president, further explained his concern about Trump's decision.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday said he "deeply regretted" Trump's decision, and that "an ally must be reliable".

FILE - Turkish and USA troops conduct joint patrols around the Syrian town of Manbij, as part of an agreement that aimed to ease tensions between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, November 1, 2018.

  • Sonia Alvarado