US troops in Syria
US troops in SyriaReuters

The US military has begun moving non-essential gear out of Syria but is not withdrawing troops for now, defense officials clarified Friday, according to AFP.

A military spokesman had said earlier the US had already begun "the process of our deliberate withdrawal" from Syria.

US defense officials quickly sought to clarify the remark, stressing that the withdrawal was only of certain types of gear, and not troops.

"We are not withdrawing troops at this stage," one US defense official said.

A second US defense official told AFP the military had conducted a number of preparations for a deliberate withdrawal.

"That includes planning for the moving of people and equipment, preparation of facilities to accept retrograde equipment," the official said, noting that no troops had been withdrawn.

The Pentagon stressed it would not telegraph its troop movements or give timelines for when they may leave Syria.

In December, President Donald Trump made a surprise announcement that the US would withdraw the roughly 2,000 soldiers it currently has deployed in Syria.

The president initially called for a 30-day timeframe to complete the pullout, but after meeting with South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, Trump agreed to delay completion of the withdrawal.

While no formal time-table for the pullout has been released, Trump reportedly agreed to spread the pullout over four months.

National Security Adviser John Bolton said during a visit to Jerusalem this week that the US may retain a presence at an enclave centered on the Al-Tanf airbase in southeast Syria even after the pullout.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)