US has started withdrawing equipment from Syria

US has started withdrawing equipment from Syria
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The U.S. has started removing military equipment from Syria, officials told ABC News on Friday.

The military “has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria. Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troop movements,” Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for U.S. coalition forces said in a statement.


The statement comes a month after President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders urges impeachment trial 'quickly' in the Senate US sending 20,000 troops to Europe for largest exercises since Cold War Barr criticizes FBI, says it's possible agents acted in 'bad faith' in Trump probe MORE's announcement of his plan to do so caused ripples in Washington and was credited with causing high-ranking departures in the Trump administration.

Officials told ABC News that it was only equipment that had been withdrawn thus far and no American troops had left.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights specifically said 10 armored vehicles and some trucks were seen leaving the Syrian town of al-Rmelan. 

“We have made a number of preparations for the deliberate withdrawal from Syria including planning for personnel and equipment moves, preparing facilities for retrograde and moving materials out of Syria,” one official told the news agency.

Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, announced last month, was considered to be the main reason for the resignations of Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThreatening foreign states with sanctions can backfire Overnight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Amazon to challenge Pentagon's 'war cloud' decision in federal court MORE and coalition forces special envoy Brett McGurk.

Other top Pentagon aides, including Mattis's chief of staff and Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White, have also resigned in the past month.

In a statement announcing his departure in December, Mattis appeared to rebuke the president's treatment of U.S. allies in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world, while stating that Trump deserved a defense secretary more closely aligned with his political beliefs.

“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” Mattis wrote in his resignation letter.

Rebecca Kheel contributed.

Updated at 2:48 p.m. to clarify with statements that equipment was being withdrawn from Syria.