Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Syria's Kurds call Trump withdrawal a 'stab in the back'

US allies have been informed that troops will exit from areas east of the Euphrates

This picture shows members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Hajin, in the Deir Ezzor province, eastern Syria, on December 15, 2018. AFP
This picture shows members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Hajin, in the Deir Ezzor province, eastern Syria, on December 15, 2018. AFP

US allies in Syria view the latest decision to withdraw troops as a "stab in the back," a war monitor said on Wednesday, after the White House announced that it has started to pull its forces from the war-torn country.

The US has informed its Kurdish partners in Syria that it will withdraw troops from Kurdish-held territory in Syria in addition to areas where battles against ISIS are still ongoing, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, citing anonymous sources.

The Syrian Democratic Forces have been informed by Washington that US troops will be withdrawn from areas east of the Euphrates River, where Kurdish fighters, backed by the US-led coalition, have been fighting to clear militants from the region.

The region is also home to numerous oil fields, including the Al Omar and Al Tanak oil fields, which came under US and Kurdish control after ISIS was routed from the area in recent months.

The US has also said it will withdraw from the town of Manbij, in northeastern Syria, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to enter if Kurdish forces are not removed from the area.

The SOHR said that SDF command views Washington's decision as a "stab in the back" and a "betrayal" towards the thousands of Kurdish fighters who have lost their lives in battles against the militant group.

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White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said in a statement that the “United States has defeated the territorial caliphate…we have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign”.

Later on Wednesday, the Pentagon released a statement saying it had started the process of withdrawing US troops from Syria, but appeared to oppose Mr Trump's assertion that the ISIS campaign is over.

"The Coalition has liberated the ISIS-held territory, but the campaign against ISIS is not over," Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Observatory reported clashes between ISIS and the SDF on the eastern flanks of the militant group's last toehold in Syria.

Updated: December 19, 2018 10:25 PM

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