Withdrawal from Syria begun

2018 shows a line of US military vehicles in Syria's northern city of Manbij

But the first defense official said this was merely part of a regular troop movement.

The US-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) confirmed on Friday that the military had started the "deliberate withdrawal" of the roughly 2,000 American troops in Syria.

After media reports suggesting the departure of U.S. forces had begun, the Pentagon later said no troops had yet withdrawn and stressed that the battle against ISIS was continuing as US-backed forces try to capture the group's last remaining pockets of territory in Syria.

Adding to the confusion, a military spokesman said Friday the USA had already begun "the process of our deliberate withdrawal" from Syria.

Robertson, in his statement, said the coalition had carried out "logistical measures" to support a withdrawal but did not enter into details.

Trump initially indicated that the withdrawal would be quick but has since stated that it would be "slow and coordinated" with allies.

The U.S. military has a limited network of bases inside Syria.

Turkish forces have been deploying for weeks along the Syrian border.

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Why it matters: Bolton's insistence that the United States still stop the re-emergence of the Islamic State and Iranian-backed proxies in Syria could frustrate military planners trying to interpret Trump's withdrawal order.

Earlier this week, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said American troops will not leave northeastern Syria until IS is defeated and American-allied Kurdish fighters are protected, signalling a slowdown in Trump's initial order for a rapid withdrawal. That drew a rebuke from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who called his comments "a serious mistake".

"We recognize the Turkish people's right and President Erdogan's to defend their country from terrorists", Pompeo said Saturday, according to NPR's Michele Kelemen, who is traveling with the secretary.

Earlier Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. and Poland will jointly host the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East in Warsaw from February 13-14 with a focus on Iran.

Kurdish-led groups who control swathes of northern Syria fear an attack from Turkey in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops from their region.

He added that Pompeo is a senior intelligence officer with a mission to "cover up America's operational defeats via psychological operations", including by taking such measures against Iran.

Meanwhile, Turkey's defense minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday that his country is preparing for an "intense" attack across the Euphrates in Syria, as soon as the Americans withdraw.

It said a convoy of about 10 armoured vehicles, in addition to some trucks, pulled out from Syria's northeastern town of Rmeilan into Iraq. Russian Federation is mediating talks between the Syrian government and the Kurds to ensure a smooth transition when USA troops leave the region. "They help. They show what reality is, they provide [people to] reunite with families", she said.

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