Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 19, 2018

Report: U.S. To Leave Syria Immediately - Updated

Updated below

The Wall Street Journal just reported that U.S. troops prepare to leave northeast Syria:

WASHINGTON—In an abrupt reversal, the U.S. military is preparing to withdraw its forces from northeastern Syria, people familiar with the matter said Wednesday, a move that throws the American strategy in the Middle East into turmoil.

U.S. officials began informing partners in northeastern Syria of their plans to begin immediately pulling American forces out of the region where they have been trying to wrap up the campaign against Islamic State, the people said.

The move follows a call last week between President Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has threatened to launch an assault on America’s Kurdish partners in Syria.

Turkey had threatened over several week to invade and occupy an at least 10 miles deep strip of northeast Syria. The Turkish army brought heavy weapons to its adjacent borders areas. Some 15,000 foreign and Syrian 'rebels', paid by Turkey, are supposed to be on the forefront of the invasion. These were over the last month transferred from Idleb and other Turkish controlled areas of northwest Syria to the Turkish side of the eastern border.


The U.S. military and the neoconservatives elements in Trump's administration wanted to hold onto the northeast of Syria for an unlimited time. They planned to establish a Kurdish entity and finance it with the Syrian oil fields they occupied. They had plans to arm and train some 40,000 Kurdish troops.

For over a year the U.S. claimed to fight the Islamic State remands which still holds some grounds on the northern side of the Euphrates near the Iraqi border. But the front lines moved little. Only during the last week did the U.S. supported troops finally take the town of Hajin.

For Turkey the perspective of 40,000 armed and U.S. protected YPK Kurds on its border, while the YPG's sister organization PKK is fighting a separatist guerilla war against the Turkish army north of it, was a real and existential threat.

It seems that Erdogan made a deal with Trump, which is now turned into practical moves. Yesterday Turkey was suddenly offered to buy advanced Patriot missile defense systems. It had earlier decided to buy the Russian S-400 system. Now we learn the U.S. troops move out. What other surprises are in this deal? What does Trump get out of it? How does this change Turkey's relation with Russia?

And what about the U.S. occupied border station al-Tanf between Iraq and Syria. Will those troops leave too?



With the U.S. moving out there will be a race to take those parts of Syria that the U.S. leaves. Turkey is likely to stick to its invasion plan. The Syrian government must now race to take back the Raqqa dam, the rich agricultural land north of the Euphrates and, most important, the oil and gas field near the Iraqi border which are needed to finance the country.

It must also move parts of its army to the northeast Euphrates area to isolate and finally defeat the rest of ISIS that the U.S. seemingly leaves behind.

Update 14:45 utc

The New York Times(and Trump) confirm the move:

President Trump is considering pulling 2,000 United States ground troops out of Syria in a move that would seek to describe the four-year American-led war against the Islamic State as largely won, officials said Wednesday.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” the president said in a Twitter post on Wednesday morning. He offered no details on his plans for the military mission in Syria.

A formal withdrawal announcement could come as early as Wednesday, administration officials said. But Pentagon officials were still trying to talk the president out of it, arguing that such a move would betray Kurdish allies who have fought alongside American troops in Syria and who could find themselves under attack in a military offensive now threatened by Turkey.

That the U.S. betrays the Kurds is almost a tradition. The Kurds had been warned about this over and over again. But they did not listen. Like in Afrin canton, which Turkey occupied after the Kurds rejected to come back under Syrian government control, they will now likely have to pay a huge price.

Mattis and the neocons want Trump to stay in Syria but it seems that for once Trump is not falling for their stupid plans.

Posted by b on December 19, 2018 at 14:21 UTC | Permalink

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So the US abandons the Kurds as foreseen by everyone but the Kurds. Kurds now need to quickly reconcile with Syria.

The US is likely to gift the occupied areas to Turkey so conflict with Syria becomes a real possibility. What does the US gain out of it? Continued chaos and conflict and a new proxy army (Turkey).

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 19 2018 14:40 utc | 1

The Kurds will reconcile with Syria once the Americans miner dries up.

Posted by: Anon | Dec 19 2018 14:45 utc | 2

This is evidently a response to Turkey, justified in Trump’s mind by sales of military hardware to Turkey, but the neocons will try to keep troops in Syria.

Posted by: Alaric | Dec 19 2018 14:49 utc | 3

Reuters: U.S. weighs complete withdrawal of troops from Syria: U.S. officials

Such a decision, if confirmed, would upend assumptions about a longer-term U.S. military presence in Syria, which U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other senior U.S. officials had advocated to help ensure Islamic State cannot reemerge.


The timing of the withdrawal was not immediately clear and U.S. officials who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity did not disclose details about the deliberations, including who was involved. It was unclear how soon a decision could be announced.


Mattis and U.S. State Department officials have long fretted about leaving Syria before a peace agreement can be reached to end that country’s brutal civil war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced around half of Syria’s pre-war population of about 22 million.

Posted by: b | Dec 19 2018 14:56 utc | 4

"Pentagon officials were still trying to talk the president out of it"

The record's been that Trump backpedals once "talked to". I'll believe this withdrawal when it actually happens.

(One of the main threads of fake news seems to be headlines which proclaim something is about to happen, and it never happens.)

Posted by: Russ | Dec 19 2018 14:57 utc | 5

oded yinon is a big idea everybody knows that if greater judea is to grow space will be needed water and oil will be needed land for a mighty new kibbuzim.these are special days from babylon talmud times we see now the rebbe was correct tribulation and kaos must manifest.
the us may leave but israel is an idea forged in blood hewn from weakness division of cannot fail.
governments of the world all bare witness and tribute in private what they tell the public does not matter.
order should come from the ones chosen with the skils the force and endless intelligence to solve all crisis
storys short term of comings and goings are as nothing the idf will make the reality on the ground

Posted by: menem | Dec 19 2018 15:05 utc | 6

I hear lots of suggestions that the neocons will now launch another "chemical incident" to get Trump back into the row.

Let's hope he doesn't fall for it.

Posted by: b | Dec 19 2018 15:11 utc | 7

Russ says:

One of the main threads of fake news seems to be headlines which proclaim something is about to happen, and it never happens

yeah, but sometimes in the meantime something else happens, like a false flag for example, which of course renders the original proclamation moot.

we'll see.

Posted by: john | Dec 19 2018 15:12 utc | 8

the devil's in the details and with that weasel Erdogan, one never knows....

what I would assume is that Syria and its allied forces would move swiftly and decisively to reoccupy all it can of the northeast..

there's a bunch of swaps and deals going on here

is Turkey suddenly change back to the US side, instead of the usual playing Russia off the US/NATO
& I also wonder about Gulen's fate in the US, too

Elijah says
"With all due respect to Dion (Wall street journal), I find it hard to believe the #USA will pull out of #Syria just like that, without any gain, exchange, price, similar Iranian withdrawal... I could be wrong but again, hard to believe."

southfront reports
"....Furthermore, on December 18th, the US State Department approved the possible Foreign Military Sale to Turkey of eighty (80) Patriot MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missiles (GEM-T) missiles, sixty (60) PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $3.5 billion.."

Posted by: michaelj72 | Dec 19 2018 15:13 utc | 9

That US move out doesnt mean they will stop arming funding groups in Syria, in fact the covert operations will now be put in place instead, if that is, US actually move out to begin with.

Posted by: Zanon | Dec 19 2018 15:23 utc | 10

All part of the gaslighting psyop on Trump.

Posted by: Winston | Dec 19 2018 15:28 utc | 11

If this is actually going to happen, as opposed to being yet another 'tweetin' in the wind' moment:

1) Trump may be calculating tha winding down the US overt presence in Syria will be politically helpful in 2020: 'I got us out of that expensive quagmire; we defeated ISIS' sort of thing.

2) Will the Turkish pressure on the clown prince of Saudi Arabia be eased up as part of the deal?

3) Easing Turkey back towards US/NATO and away from Russia may be exchanged for US yet again betrayal of Kurds.

4) Besides Turkey and Syria, Iran and Iraq also share Kurdish complications.

5) Saudi Arabia is now quite unstable and maybe headed for bankruptcy, so this could involve the expiration of the US-Saudi petro-dollar recycling arrangement

5) Since Trump's election run in 2016 included main planks of borders tightened, national emphasis and rebuilding, and reduction of MidEast involvement, could this signal Trump going for broke on behalf of those core commitments within the context of inevitable continuing domestic political opposition?

Posted by: Robert Snefjella | Dec 19 2018 15:29 utc | 12

"Yesterday Turkey was suddenly offered to buy advanced Patriot missile defense systems".

Has the Patriot system been upgraded so that it now actually works? Why wasn't I told?

Posted by: Tom Welsh | Dec 19 2018 15:31 utc | 13

'Watch my lips'.

Posted by: Quentin | Dec 19 2018 15:32 utc | 14

This is NATO treachery and abuse against Kurds/YPG/Rojava! The US and its NATO allies used Kurds to fight ISIS and now they leave them to die and be raped by Erdogan's far-right jihadist army! The left must support the YPG internationally and launch a campaign against NATO, which was never trustworthy and is the seat of the multinational corporations, climate catastrophe, and nuclear war!

Posted by: Blooming Barricade | Dec 19 2018 15:33 utc | 15

@13 " the YPG internationally and launch a campaign against NATO, which was never trustworthy and is the seat of the multinational corporations, climate catastrophe, and nuclear war!"

We all already knew that. If the Kurds knew it as well they would be doing a lot better today.

Posted by: Lysander | Dec 19 2018 15:41 utc | 16

Maybe the reports of Russian heavy gear surrounding the American base at Al Tanf came with a formal warning? The downing of the Il26 has ushered in a more muscular Russian policy, not just in Syria. Even if its just a mad tweet from Trump, and it gets rolled back by the MIC, the damage is done with US proxies - and not just in Syria.

Posted by: cdvision | Dec 19 2018 15:43 utc | 17

Donald Trump is so flaky that anything he says must be taken with a grain of salt. The only thing consistent about him is that he is inconsistent. Therefore I'll believe the withdrawal of US forces in Syria will happen when it actually does. US involvement in that country and throughout the Middle East from the very start has been a grand display of foreign policy and military ignorance arrogance stupidity and hypocrisy. Chalk-up another bloody win for the neocon nincompoops that infest Washington DC.

Posted by: GeorgeV | Dec 19 2018 15:49 utc | 18

It is reported that in the last couple of days Erdogan agreed to purchase US-made Patriot missiles instead of Russian S-400.
Today the Pentagon tells us that we are removing our forces from the Turkey-Syria border.

Other posters are wary of this being a prelude to something bigger.

I can't help but remember Rumsfeld very publicly announcing a major auditing push of the Pentagon. Less than 24 hours later there was a major explosion at the Pentagon building and planes were crashing in NY and Pennsylvania.

Posted by: librul | Dec 19 2018 15:52 utc | 19

What are the chances it's somehow related to this?

Posted by: WJ | Dec 19 2018 15:59 utc | 20

Supporting Turkey's invasion of Syria doesn't even mean US troops will actually withdraw. For one thing, the official figure of 2 000 troops is probably too low. What about withdrawing the covert forces? And it's entirely true that Trump is quite capable of reneging on his word. Even if official forces were withdrawn, this is not a policy change: It is continuation of the war against Syria via Turkish proxy, not peace.

Re Russian/Turkish relations, Russia does not have the ability to satisfy Turkey and Syria, nor the wealth and power to support some sort of compromise. Russia is trapped in a war with no prospect of a path to victory, much less victory, for the prize of a naval base of dubious value. The only sore more purulent is the endless war with the fascist regime in Ukraine, where Crimea serves as a permanent casus bellie for cold war with NATO.

Posted by: steven t johnson | Dec 19 2018 16:03 utc | 21

It is amazing what a little S-300 can do.
It shut down all Israeli incursions.
It turned troops on u.s. bases in syria into hostages.
If they false flag it, we may yet get to see one of those f-somethings effectiveness against the S-300.

IMO, I think trump is shutting down their 'Syria' project because they have threatened to persecute his children. They probably should not have cornered him. It is going to be an interesting two years, if he survives.


Posted by: b4real | Dec 19 2018 16:05 utc | 22

This is NATO treachery and abuse against Kurds/YPG/Rojava! The US and its NATO allies used Kurds to fight ISIS and now they leave them to die and be raped by Erdogan's far-right jihadist army!
Posted by: Blooming Barricade | Dec 19, 2018 10:33:37 AM | 13

The Kurds have an escape route available to them: they can quickly negotiate their reintegration into the sovereign Syrian state of which legally they are and always were a part. They have to give up all their pretences and return control to the rightful owners. If they do so, then the Syrian army can proceed very quickly to the Turkish border. If Turkey knows that is going to happen they will not even launch the offensive - (a) they have no geostrategic reason to, (b) they know it is guaranteed to fail, against the combination of the Syrian army and Russia, and (c) Russia will put pressure on them not to proceed with the offensive. The cost to Turkey of proceeding with the offensive - if the Kurds reconcile - would be prohibitive and the gains would be nil.

So, Kurds, you have a choice - you can decide your own future. What are you going to do? Will you - yet again - take the stupidest and most irresponsible option that puts all of you in grave danger, in the middle of a battleground between Syria/Russia and Turkey, or will you - for a change - show some rationality and responsibility, and forge a long overdue reconciliation with the Syrian government?

Posted by: BM | Dec 19 2018 16:06 utc | 23

All is coming

For the last batch of the jews

They will disappear.

Posted by: Princess sophie | Dec 19 2018 16:07 utc | 24

- Does this mean that ALL US troops are leaving Syria ?

Posted by: Willy2 | Dec 19 2018 16:08 utc | 25

Chalk-up another blood soaked loss to zionists that infest dc.voila.(sic?)

Posted by: dahoit | Dec 19 2018 16:08 utc | 26

Maybe this explains why the Russians and Syrians have held off on the operation against Idlib so they are in a better position to respond effectively.

BTW, I'm waiting for American so-called liberals to accuse Trump of treason for withdrawing from Syria - I suspect most Americans will be glad when it happens and the American stupidity in Syria stops.

Finally, if the anti-SAG forces in al-Tanf have any sense, they'll ship out before the Americans do. Once the Americans leave al-Tanf will be under SAG control within hours unless it already actually is.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Dec 19 2018 16:08 utc | 27

This is happening fast !!!
Ragıp Soylu @ragipsoylu
BREAKING — US State Dep to withdraw its staff from Syria in 24 hours, US officials to Reuters

Did Trump finally managed to overrule the neocons?

Posted by: b | Dec 19 2018 16:09 utc | 28

This will of course be reported as "Having liberatedSyria from ISIS, the victorious US army returns home". Parades will be held it is part of the whole pantomime show to cover up a single fact: the USA cannot win wars. Battles, yes. Wars no. Never has never will.

Posted by: Hem Lock | Dec 19 2018 16:17 utc | 29

What about Al Tanf?

Posted by: Lozion | Dec 19 2018 16:21 utc | 30

Well done b! Again, we heard it here first! Well, at least I did...

Posted by: xLemming | Dec 19 2018 16:23 utc | 31

if the State dept is withdrawing its staff so quickly from the northeast of Syria, does that mean that the turks indeed are going to invade and attack the Kurds?

Posted by: michaelj72 | Dec 19 2018 16:27 utc | 32

According to this article (sourced via debkafiles, a known IDF disinformation site so take it for what it is),
Russia deployed a battalion of S-300 launchers near Der Ezzor during the last G20 summit.
If true, it must have contributed to the pull out decision. The goose was cooked..

Posted by: Lozion | Dec 19 2018 16:29 utc | 33

I don't think the Kurds will lose out, except from the Turks. As some have said they'll make a deal with Asad, and Asad will make a deal with Erdogan. And the Kurds will survive, as long as they don't go for too high a profile, as the KRG don't these days.

The US troops may well be back, as when Putin withdrew the Russians, but the US determination to stay permanently has been weakened.

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 19 2018 16:33 utc | 34

elijah is getting ready to celebrate, and so I am!!

assuming it's all true.

trumpster is declaring victory over ISIS, as well he must from propaganda purposes, which is fine with me, as long as they get the f**k out.

Poor kurds made their bed with the US and now will have to sleep in it...they keep making the wrong geo-political decisions, and have a terrible leadership both in syria and in iraq
If the #US pull out all its forces from the north-east of #Syria, and I mean ALL, this is time to celebrate for all Syrians and declare the day of the last US soldier withdrawal THE independence day. The main source of trouble to the ME claim it is pulling out? Am I dreaming?

Posted by: michaelj72 | Dec 19 2018 16:33 utc | 35

Some 15,000 foreign and Syrian 'rebels', paid by Turkey, are supposed to be on the forefront of the invasion. These were over the last month transferred from Idleb and other Turkish controlled areas of northwest Syria to the Turkish side of the eastern border.

Was that Erdogan's motive for the Idlib agreement? What would he want to do if the US pulls out, and what would he want the Kurds to do?

The Kurdish problem is an existential threat to Turkey, if and only if the Kurds are an independent state and/or supported by the US; any putative annexation - if indeed possible - is not existential. It is at least a plausible possibility that he might want to see the Kurds reconcile with the Syrian government, revert to Syrian control, and thereby dissipate the existential threat - and in that event he might contribute further to the pressure on the Kurds to reconcile. Some will say that Erdogan wants the territory and the oil, but that is worth far less than what it would cost to Turkey - an expensive quagmire that he cannot win, that would cost enormously year after year with also persisting Turkish military loss of life, constant sabotage, plus an enormous political cost when the Turkish people tire of the quagmire. I doubt very much the rather small oil fields in northeastern Syria are enough to pay even the raw financial costs of the venture let alone the political and life costs.

I think Erdogan will cooperate with Syria and Russia to force the Kurds to reconcile.


Then the other interesting question is the role of Khashoggi in this - we know Erdogan was pressing for this as a part of the deal to shut up about Khashoggi, so does this mean a final deal has been reached to Erdogan's satisfaction? This must be a factor in the pullout of the US. That also means the Saudis might also have been involved in the deal since they also want Erdogan to shut up about Khashoggi - did Saudi agree to the US pullout as the cost of Erdogan silence?

A lot of interesting questions raised by this!

Posted by: BM | Dec 19 2018 16:34 utc | 36

b alludes to another wrinkle in this game. If the reports of withdrawing within 24 hours are correct, is this a tactical move to allow the Turks to invade before the Syrian army can respond? The Turks appear ready to move and the mobility of the Syrians is an unknown.

Posted by: Michael | Dec 19 2018 16:34 utc | 37

I will believe it when I see it.

So now what happens in Gaza after the dust settles a bit?

If empire can't get another war on then bankruptcy comes quickly.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 19 2018 16:38 utc | 38

Michael @34

All Russia has to do is airlift in, say, 200 airborne troops to stop the Turks in their tracks. Its worked before with NATO - Pristina airport.

Posted by: cdvision | Dec 19 2018 16:38 utc | 39

Due to the constant Turkish threat the Kurds will probably (already?) come to some agreement with Damascus.

Posted by: AriusArmenian | Dec 19 2018 16:39 utc | 40

Lindsey Graham wastes no time. He thinks it's a huge mistake. But he seems more concerned about ISIS than Rojava. This will probably be the Israeli line.

Posted by: dh | Dec 19 2018 16:39 utc | 41

Why do I not trust good wonderful news?

Posted by: librul | Dec 19 2018 16:40 utc | 42

Does it add up? 2000 US troops are to leave, but there were anything up to 8'000 in place. What about the "coalition" (French among others)? Plus what is it, 14 to 17 bases in eastern Syria alone.

Recently the Russians have been showing photos of 1'000 of oil tankers leaving eastern Syria towards Turkey and Iraq. Note that Turkey - and the Erdogan family profited from ISIS oil output before the Syria war started in earnest.

How much of this is due to Trump's "problems at home? ie Flynn and Muellers blackmail of him to "accept" crime. Or the threats by the incoming Democrats, and the continued hiding of Clintons' foundation monetary greed? (Trump has just had his own foundation closed down)

Probably Erdogan flipped again.

Posted by: stonebird | Dec 19 2018 16:43 utc | 43

This is happening fast !!!
BREAKING — US State Dep to withdraw its staff from Syria in 24 hours, US officials to Reuters
Did Trump finally managed to overrule the neocons?
Posted by: b | Dec 19, 2018 11:09:35 AM | 25

Ha!!! Is this a Trump counterstrike to the Neolibs, I wonder?

Posted by: BM | Dec 19 2018 16:44 utc | 44

I think that past experience suggests we should all be very wary about this "withdrawal" until well after it's complete. Last time Trump spoke about "withdrawal" we had multiple staged chemical attacks, one of which was arguably coordinated in some way with the Skripal false-flag in the U.K., and got to witness the last major NATO aerial attack on the country. This time, Trump's plan to "withdraw" happens to coincide with ongoing troop buildups and escalations in the Donbass region, involves possibly the most cunning and Machiavellian of all Middle East/Eurasian tyrants--Erdogan--and seems a bit too rapid to be believable. Something is afoot. That is what I will think until it's all over.

Posted by: WJ | Dec 19 2018 16:53 utc | 45

If only someone could call Trump and have the US leave Yemen also.

Posted by: Jeff | Dec 19 2018 17:02 utc | 46

dh @38,

I wish we could send Lindsey Graham to Syria. That would be a hoot.

Posted by: WJ | Dec 19 2018 17:06 utc | 47

Still plenty of time for Trump to bend once again to the Permanent State. Wait for a reason to be found before any troops come home on anything other than a regular rotation of troops.

Posted by: worldblee | Dec 19 2018 17:11 utc | 48

Posted by: BM | Dec 19, 2018 11:34:44 AM | 33

New article by Tom Luongo just out Turkey and Russia Push Towards a Resolution in Syria claiming Trump is preparing to extradite Gulen - that might reinforce my suggestion that the US pullout from Syria is all part of a negotiated settlement of the Khashoggi affair. Saudi might also have been in on the deal.

Posted by: BM | Dec 19 2018 17:15 utc | 49

I wish we could send Lindsey Graham to Syria. That would be a hoot.
Posted by: WJ | Dec 19, 2018 12:06:39 PM | 44

Yea, give him a .22 airpistol and parachute him into the middle of the ISIS pocket. If ISIS ask for a ransom just tell them they can keep him, and request they find suitable gainful employment for him.

Posted by: BM | Dec 19 2018 17:22 utc | 50

>>>>: WJ | Dec 19, 2018 12:06:39 PM | 47

I wish we could send Lindsey Graham to Syria. That would be a hoot.

Contact ITV Studios in the UK and pitch it as the theme for the next series of I'm a celebrity...Get me out of here!. Include John Bolton, Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair, etc. among the contestants and I'd help crowdfund it.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Dec 19 2018 17:37 utc | 51

RT reported the story this afternoon. Is it real?

b says:

Mattis and the neocons want Trump to stay in Syria but it seems that for once Trump is not falling for their stupid plans.

Can we trust anything these gangsters say? Nope. So I take it that gist of b's argument is that the Empire has passed the ball to Erdogan? So who does Erdogan fight, the Kurds or ISIS? He can't possible fight both as this would bring him slap up against the Russians.

So, before we celebrate, I'd say let's wait and see. Well we can't do anything else anyway.

Posted by: William Bowles | Dec 19 2018 17:39 utc | 52

A great day for trump. The usual skepticism from his detractors. The Kurds have no cover. Neither does Idleb.

So much for the Imperator label. Maybe he is a nationalist after all.

Posted by: Nemesiscalling | Dec 19 2018 17:40 utc | 53

Netanyahu says he was aware of the decision....

“The American administration told me that the intention of the president is to take their troops out of Syria,” he said. “They made clear that they have other ways to make their influence felt in the area.”

Brig-Gen Kuperwasser is less sanguine...

Posted by: dh | Dec 19 2018 17:46 utc | 54

steven t johnson | Dec 19, 2018 11:03:16 AM | 21

I suspect that there a lot more PMCs in Syria than US military forces just as there are in Afghanistan. Frankly, I think the entire thing is a hoax, a prelude to something even nastier (if that's possible).

Posted by: William Bowles | Dec 19 2018 17:52 utc | 55

This from the BBC 'news' on the alleged withdrawal, a quote from the White House PS:

The statement from Ms Sanders said: "We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign".

She did not give details of what that campaign might be, but said the US and its allies stood "ready to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests whenever necessary, and we will continue to work together to deny radical Islamist terrorists territory, funding, support and any means of infiltrating our borders". - 'Syria conflict: US announces withdrawal of troops'.

I suggest it's a feint. Campaign? What campaign?

Posted by: William Bowles | Dec 19 2018 17:57 utc | 56

If Erdogan renages on the S400 deal with Russia, that will raise the stakes somewhat as if he blows it with Russia, they won’t give him a second chance. As to withdrawing U.S. troops, nope, it’s a feint. Watch out for a nasty game to start being played. I’m certain Russia doesn’t believe that the U.S. does anything in good faith and has/is planning accordingly.

Posted by: Beibdnn. | Dec 19 2018 18:06 utc | 57

If my memory serves me right, i remember that shortly before 911 there was much propaganda of 'world wide peace' in the aether and until then unseen positive outlook for palestine...

I feel like a a historical deja vu is in the making which would serve more than one group actually having problems to push their part of nwo agenda through....

And what could be better before such event to generate some positive headlines, if only for the future wikedpedia history...

Posted by: youss | Dec 19 2018 18:07 utc | 58

Jonathon Marcus, oh he of Integrity Initiative fame and (one of) MI6's men in the BBC says:

Chaotic US policy?

Jonathan Marcus, BBC diplomatic correspondent

President Trump's decision reverses the official lines of both the Pentagon and the State Department and it places Washington's Kurdish allies in greater jeopardy.

US ground operations in north-eastern Syria involve some 2,000 troops, maybe more, and a network of bases and air strips has been established. But to what strategic end?

IS is well on the way to being defeated. Syria's President Assad remains in place. If the goal now is to contain Iran or Russia's rising influence in the region then 2,000 troops strung out across a vast swathe of territory may be too small a force to do this.

Their presence though does give the US "skin in the game". And many will see this decision as yet another indication of the chaos and uncertainty surrounding US policy towards this crucial region.

Clearly, Marcus is worried. What does it tell us about this (alleged) move by Trump? Marcus is all but saying the same thing as the rest of the necons on the Beltway. I await the next false flag operation.

Posted by: William Bowles | Dec 19 2018 18:11 utc | 59

This is very obviously a deal with Turkey.
Nor does it mean the "abandoned" area goes to Turkey - Turkey primarily cares that it is no long "free Kurdistan".
Kurds shouldn't feel betrayed - if they didn't know they were expendable pawns, they are obviously too stupid to matter.

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 19 2018 18:17 utc | 60

CIA will be very unhappy if Gulen is extradited. I wonder what secrets he would give away to the Turks.

Posted by: lysias | Dec 19 2018 18:22 utc | 61


The Kurds have largely worked alongside the Syrian government during most of the campaign against ISIS. Their own platform calls for decentralisation, not independence. What we're likely to see, assuming this move by Trump happens, is a Kurd-Syrian state alliance against the notorious ERDOGAN, who is invading the region with German and French Euro weapons via the multinationals. Europeans must refuse INF withdrawal, cut off arms sales and end NATO and stop the associated US-EU trade deal TTIP 2.0 with GMO Soy Beans and fracking gas

Posted by: Anne Jaclard | Dec 19 2018 18:23 utc | 62

Posted by: john | Dec 19, 2018 10:12:05 AM | 8

"in the meantime something else happens, like a false flag for example, which of course renders the original proclamation moot.

we'll see."

Yup, that's what happened last time Trump made noises about pulling out. And these neocon wingnuts are so berserk insane there's literally nothing I wouldn't put past them.

Posted by: Russ | Dec 19 2018 18:31 utc | 63

"BTW, I'm waiting for American so-called liberals to accuse Trump of treason for withdrawing from Syria - I suspect most Americans will be glad when it happens and the American stupidity in Syria stops."

The 'so-called liberals' will have to fight their way to the microphones through the neo-con mob, as well as the gov't embedded dual citizenship (US/Israeli) bunch crying because the US won't fight Israel's dirty war for them.

And the Kurds cannot pretend to be surprised at the US leaving them on their own. We have been selling them out since Bush I sold them out in Iraq.

As for the Defense Dept. pushing back on the withdrawal because 'the campaign isn't finished'. That would be because the most powerful nation on earth has only 'finished' one campaign anywhere since WW2, and that would be in Grenada. We won't even allow North and South Korea to end their hostilties unless WE get to impose the terms. And no, l'il Kim is not stupid enough to give up what it already has.

Posted by: Tom in AZ | Dec 19 2018 18:39 utc | 65

"I will believe it when I see it."

psycho historian, completely agree.

Posted by: spudski | Dec 19 2018 18:43 utc | 66

Pacify Turkey, and they'll quit griping to the world about SA's killing of the reporter.

Pacify SA, and they'll keep funneling $ to DJT's children and the Trump regime. Simple..

BUT, as many say here; " I'll believe it when I see it..

IF, the U$A leaves, Turkey can finally deal with their Kurdish problem.

Posted by: ben | Dec 19 2018 18:46 utc | 67

As many opined, the proof is in the pudding. As for readiness of SAA to advance, it has been on edge to launch Idlib Dawn at any moment, and is also ready to join Iraqi PMU to roll-up the Eastern bank of Euphrates. RuAF sorties are way down indicating R&R for crews and maintenance and upgrades for jets. In his speech to Russia's National Defense Board I linked to yesterday, Putin said Russia will remain committed militarily in Syria until the job's finished. In the same speech, Putin called Bolton's bluff re-Outlaw US Empire withdrawing from INF Treaty to force arms race upon Russia--Russia's already prepared for that. Damage control of UK's II Scandal and likelihood that something akin to it is ongoing within the Beltway is yet another factor. Last we have the attack on Trump's Foundation which will cause him to finally have the Clinton's indicted for theirs, which will have numerous unintended outcomes for those connected.

Then there're the many changes happening in Afghanistan and Trump's losing his Trade War along with his defeat over The Wall and other negative domestic developments. The Kerch Strait failure and so much more can be added to this list of Imperial policy setbacks. Then there's the beaconing of other targets/victims, Venezuela for one, which just had municipal council elections where Maduro's party and allies won massively on the heels of Russia's military visit.

As for Erdogan and Turkey, it's decidedly against both interests to remain within Syria as Russia enjoys lots of leverage, and it would be extremely foolhardy for Erdogan to jeopardize future links to BRI and membership in SCO and the further riches they promise. The key is getting the Outlaw US Empire to abandon Syria and Iraq 100% and cutting links to Zionistan so the Syrian and Iraqi governments can regain 100% control over their national territories and thus regain control over their Kurdish minorities.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 19 2018 18:50 utc | 68

If the U.S. withdrawal is true, then this is a strategic defeat for the 'Globalists'.

Could this be Trump's payback for their refusal to fund the border wall?

Posted by: dh-mtl | Dec 19 2018 18:55 utc | 69

The Syrian war had become stalemated, a frozen war like Ukraine ect, with Turkey constantly threatening a move on the US proxies the only likely move.
Possibly Trump has some sort of deal with Erdogan re Israel and Iran. Kurd's being Erdo's number one target and Iran being Trump's target.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Dec 19 2018 19:06 utc | 70

NYT claims that withdrawal is ordered in 30 days. Given that SOME arrangements have to be made, this is more sensible than 24 or 48 or 72 hours. OTOH, sensible arrangements would include some political settlement, I guess Damascus and YPG should agree to a formula of political rights of minorities, e.g. not outlawing their parties etc. like in Ukraine. And this is precisely impossible with a neo-con crew tutoring YPG against cooperation and reconciliation. I would guess that YPG does not want to repeat Afrin on a grand scale. And if Erdoğan is not stupid, he should not want it either. He is moderately clever, so who knows.

PS. The way you say Erdoğan (roughly, Erdo-an) is different from Erdogan.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 19 2018 19:26 utc | 71

This didn't take long:

"The U.K. Defense Minister Tobias Ellwood rejected the recent comments by U.S. President Donald Trump on defeating the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh) in Syria.

"After Trump tweeted that 'we have defeated ISIS (Islamic State) in Syria,' Tobias Ellwood replied 'I strongly disagree.'

'(Islamic State) has morphed into other forms of extremism and the threat is very much alive,' the junior minister said in a tweet."

Yet further proof UK's Tories don't like Trump and will help undermine him.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 19 2018 19:39 utc | 72

Too late for NeoCons to stop it....US withdrawing diplomats within 24 hours, troops already leaving (

Guess Michael Weiss will be out of a gig at CNN until he restyles himself as an Iran expert. Give it time...

Posted by: Comrade Alpha | Dec 19 2018 19:44 utc | 73

I’ll believe it when I see it. This looks like another feint. Announce you are getting out to show your good intentions and then pull another false flag to prevent it and blame Assad or Russia or Turkey for not being able to pull out.

If it does happen it may be that the troops will be needed elsewhere. We have so many operations going on in so many places I wont try and predict where they might be needed.

Posted by: Pft | Dec 19 2018 19:47 utc | 74

Nice map, b the way, the NeoCon slush journals NYTIMES WSJ WAPO always color much of the southeast white as "densely populated" to make it seem like Assad doesn't control as much of the country and makes rebels appear like real contenders for appeal rather than on their last legs.

Posted by: Comrade Alpha | Dec 19 2018 19:47 utc | 75

Nor did this:

"Most terrifying is the Left MSM in USA has taken to condemning the troop removal from Syria as 'helping the Russians.' The US MSM has gone nuts."

I haven't seen any evidence of that yet; anyone else?

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 19 2018 19:47 utc | 76

Seems those most opposed to this latest development are the US puppets. Seems occupation is big business for some.

Trump, hate him or love him, is a businessman and sees things in terms of profit/loss. He sees America's "allies" as nothing but sroungers who use the US for their own benefit.

Strategically, thanks to Russian air power and resistance axis boots on the ground, ISIS has been strategically defeated. They have no strategic depth - either in Iraq or Syria.

Again, we see Kurds getting shafted. I find it quite amazing that the Kurdish leadership, both in Iraq and Syria think the US will somehow chose them over a long standing NATO partner, Turkiye.

Posted by: Zico | Dec 19 2018 19:56 utc | 77

Here's an excellent observation followed by an American who immediately steps in his own shit without knowing:

"Most Americans would balk at the idea of referring to women or other human beings as possessions or 'gifts,' but when it comes to a sovereign nation, an entire people, it becomes perfectly acceptable to lament the 'loss' of Syria and reject 'gifting' it to Russia/Iran/Hizbullah."

justasquid is an apt moniker for the American boor.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 19 2018 20:02 utc | 78

Last week Assad affirmed Syria to take back all every last bit of its territory
As I understand it, Netanyohu tried to talk Russia into programming the S-300 to allow Israeli aircraft into Syria.. (hearsay at the moment) and Mr. Putin responded to Trump USA presence in Syria is preventing peace..

Posted by: snake | Dec 19 2018 20:04 utc | 79

These victories over ISIS in Syria do not signal the end of the Global Coalition or its campaign. We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

Last week, Department of Defence spokesperson Col. Rob Manning said that the US has finalised the establishment of observation posts in northeast Syria and will be coordinating with Turkey its security efforts in the border region

5000 US troops still at Syria/Iraq border and will likely remain on Iraq side where the presumably can provide support to Kurds. Those troops within Syria will be withdrawn over 60-100 days. How many observers remain? State Department will be withdrawn within 24 hrs (what exactly are they doing anyways)

I guess US wants to remove troops in anticipation of some heavy fighting in the area to keep them out of harms way. What moves out can be moved back in when the dust settles.

Posted by: Pft | Dec 19 2018 20:07 utc | 80

Syria has officially been divided into east and west.

A private army will control the west.

The US looks like the good guy by pretending to leave.

these reports are psy operations dung handed ot to agents in the media.

the privatisation of war
plaus a bull denial and all that what what

Posted by: normal | Dec 19 2018 20:08 utc | 81


You and others are getting it wrong. The withdrawal of the USA will leave the left wing Kurds at the mercy of Erdogan, who is a US puppet anyway. This will just be a full scale NATO takeover of most of Syria's northern territories.

Posted by: Blooming Barricade | Dec 19 2018 20:13 utc | 82

I see the State Department notified Congress of a proposal to sell the Patriot air and missile defense system to Turkey. This is potentially a $3.5 billion deal

Any relation to the announced pull out?

Posted by: Pft | Dec 19 2018 20:15 utc | 83

"All U.S. State Department personnel are being evacuated from Syria within 24 hours - official.""

All STATE DEPARTMENT employees in 24 hours. Doesn't say all military personnel or anything like that. Just State Department.

sounds like a false flag incoming maybe a new uss liberty day of infamy
big bangs in syria,israel and ukriania

Posted by: nigel | Dec 19 2018 20:18 utc | 84

So I guess Nerdogan forces Kurds out of Turkey and allows all killers he likes that are bottled in Idlib to occupy all the Kurdish land along the Turkish border. Syria has been negotiating with the Kurdish leadership for some time and they appear more pragmatic than the loony Iraq kurd leadership.

time will tell but yakees go home: YES!

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Dec 19 2018 20:24 utc | 85

thanks b and to those commenting...

playing poker... who is bluffing who here?? either way the announcement can be read now, while staying tuned for the next 30 days, or after something has or hasn't indeed changed in the short term... meanwhile we might find out about the changing background agreements between any of the players.. as it stands, anything can happen and it is anyone's guess at this point.. as peter points out much of the syria dynamic is a frozen situation - not all of it, but much of it... in terms of one group making a mistake, i give higher odds that turkey or the usa would do that then russia or iran here..

trumps position seems increasingly fragile... this and a whole lot more facts can be read into this countless different ways... i am not sure just how strong erdogans hand is here either.. there are so many players wanting to screw the other players, it is hard to follow and make a guesstimate..

Posted by: james | Dec 19 2018 20:30 utc | 86

I have no idea whether Trump's statement will take place or not. The Syrian Kurds reaction will be to forward their deal with Damascus. Down the ideas of independence pushed by the Americans, and accept the autonomy offered by Damascus. That's OK for Erdogan, I think. An autonomous Syrian Kurdistan, subordinated, is OK for him, better than having to occupy Rojava militarily.

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 19 2018 20:35 utc | 87

@nigel 83

"The DPR intelligence services received new data confirming the preparation by the Kiev regime under the leadership of Western curators of a large-scale provocation against its own people, which can result in mass casualties among the civilian population.

The special services of Ukraine plan to carry out an act of sabotage at environmentally hazardous enterprises near the line of contact of the parties with the subsequent charge of a crime of Russia and the republics of Donbass. These are enterprises that use chlorine, ammonia and other hazardous substances in their production...."

Posted by: claudeS | Dec 19 2018 20:37 utc | 88

Again, we see Kurds getting shafted. I find it quite amazing that the Kurdish leadership, both in Iraq and Syria think the US will somehow chose them over a long standing NATO partner, Turkiye.

Posted by: Zico | Dec 19, 2018 2:56:10 PM | 77

There can be a gap (and a large one) between Kurdish propaganda and the thinking of Kurdish leaders. The latter are not born yesterday. The scenario if using Kurds and disposing them to the mercies of the respective potentates repeated many times in the last 100 years, at somewhat regularly spaced intervals and in many permutations. Most Kurdish guerilla-political movements have continuity with folks who adopted Communist ideology and cooperated with Stalin in 1930-ties and 40-ies, some had to survive after Stalin's support was curtailed and they fled to Soviet Union, to trickle back later. They know that any external support is fickle.

The timing for a "forced agreement" with Damascus would be rather good, because Syria still needs to take care of its north-west, so some mutual concessions between Baath and YPG may have value for both sides. Russia has some impartiality here, her interest is a stable solution rather than giving full glory to one side.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 19 2018 20:41 utc | 89

The globalists are in trouble. Strategic retreat. The Hitman will return brandishing a new contract.

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Dec 19 2018 20:45 utc | 90

The Syrian Kurds are not being shafted as per Piotr Berman | Dec 19, 2018 3:41:14 PM | 88. They understood perfectly well their situation, and have prepared for it. The negotiations with Damascus come to the point.

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 19 2018 20:58 utc | 91

A more sinister interpretation:
If the empire expects to start a larger scale war in the region, then their ground troops may become much more vulnerable. Better to get them out of harm's way beforehand.

Posted by: ACitizen | Dec 19 2018 20:58 utc | 92

The backstage players--Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Kurds, and Turkey have been meeting in some form almost continuously for the past four months. Some meeting outcomes we know; most we don't. Several weeks back, I speculated Russia, Turkey, Iraq, and Syria were busily planning a subterfuge aimed at the Outlaw US Empire to force it to withdraw without additional combat. Perhaps what we're now seeing is its result. Recall just two days ago that Putin agreed with Erdogan's planned offensive, which seemed a change of tack and clearly put additional pressure on Kurdish politicos. Again, we shall see.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 19 2018 20:58 utc | 93

For Turkey the perspective of 40,000 armed and U.S. protected YPK Kurds on its border ... was a real and existential threat.
Existential threat? Wow ... and to think I used to take this site seriously. Big mistake!

Posted by: Ron | Dec 19 2018 21:11 utc | 94

Seems a lot of people are pissed with this latest development. I wonder why? Peace no good?

Turns out all warmongers in NATO are happy to see American soldiers do their dirty work for them. Israel seems very pissed and I wonder why. You'd think with all the weapons the US gives them, they can handle business themslves. But noooo - they still need the US to be on baby-sitting duties.

Perhaps this move will calm the hotheads in the region?

Posted by: Zico | Dec 19 2018 21:16 utc | 95

the liberal interventionists are complaining & groaning already, via RT

"Hillary Clinton’s former foreign policy adviser Jesse Lehrich bemoaned that the withdrawal would embolden Syrian President Bashar Assad and strengthen Russia and Iran, while leaving the US-allied Kurdish militias “once again hung out to dry.”

clintonist Lehrich: "....abrupt withdrawal will not only breathe new life into ISIS, but also amounts to a dangerous abandonment of our allies & strategic goals in the region."

and of course, the hacks I mean the serious 'journalists' at CNN are 'reporting' using their usual anonymous and reactionary 'sources':
Jake Tapper says, "Responding to this, a Pentagon official asks me: “so when does Russia announce their victory?”

None of these liberals would ever be able to admit the facts, that it was Syrian forces allied with russia, iran, and hezbollah etc that have essentially wiped out al Qaeda and Isis and other jihadists in Syria (except for Idlib), or even better won them over using diplomacy and negotiation, and not the US, which as Moon of A has noted a large number of times has actually protected the head choppers for further use later on...

Posted by: michaelj72 | Dec 19 2018 21:16 utc | 96

Al-Masdar News says that

Kurdish forces confirm US and French forces began withdrawal from east Syria.

....The SDF official highlighted that the French troops were also withdrawing alongside the U.S. military, despite no official announcement from Paris about their forces leaving Syria.

No further details were released regarding the withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Syria.

Posted by: michaelj72 | Dec 19 2018 21:23 utc | 97

@ Ron | Dec 19, 2018 4:11:21 PM | 93

Actually that sentence perfectly mirrors what authorities and public think and talk about here in Turkey.

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Dec 19 2018 21:25 utc | 98

Heavy clashes erupted tonight between YPG and Turkish backed FSA rebels south of Mare' town in north Aleppo countryside.

Posted at 10:15pm gmt+1

Posted by: Lozion | Dec 19 2018 21:27 utc | 99

Just to explain to US readers who have not understood, the Syrian Kurds occupy a thin strip of land south of the Turkish border, unviable as an independent state. The US, however, following the failed French policy of the 1920s, wanted to split up Syria into independent states, of which Rojava is the last. The Kurds, logically, have not believed in the US policy, and negotiate with Damascus.

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 19 2018 21:28 utc | 100

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