Withdrawing United States troops enter Iraq from Syria

ARBIL, Iraq (AFP) – Dozens of United States (US) armoured vehicles with American soldiers aboard crossed into Iraqi Kurdistan from Syria yesterday, according to AFP journalists.

The withdrawing convoy crossed the Tigris River at the Fishkhabur border post near the Turkish frontier, en route to Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan Region, where there is a US base.

The US announced the withdrawal of 1,000 American soldiers deployed in northeast Syria on October 13, the fifth day of Turkey’s offensive against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers a terrorist group.

On October 7, US soldiers withdrew from the Turkish border in northern Syria on orders of US President Donald Trump, opening the way for Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish forces. The offensive was paused last Thursday by a fragile ceasefire negotiated by Washington.

Last Sunday, an AFP correspondent saw more than a convoy of 70 armoured vehicles flying the American flag and escorted by helicopters drive past the Syrian town of Tal Tamr carrying military equipment.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the convoy was evacuating the military base of Sarrin, south of the border town of Kobane, and appeared to be heading east to Hasakeh province.

In the past week, US forces have withdrawn from three other bases in Syria, including from the key town of Manbij and another close to Kobane close to the Turkish border.

The US currently has 5,200 troops posted in Iraq, deployed as part of a Washington-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS) extremist group.

A United States (US) military vehicle, part of a convoy, arrives near the Iraqi Kurdish town of Bardarash in the Dohuk governorate after withdrawing from northern Syria. PHOTO: AFP