US 'to remove all forces from Syria by April'

US 'to remove all forces from Syria by April'
US is preparing for complete withdrawal from Syria by April but many fear that Kurdish forces will be vulnerable to attack from Turkey after troops pull out.
2 min read
08 February, 2019
US-backed coalition forces driving in northern Syria where Kurdish fighters fear Turkish encroachment. [AFP/Getty Images]
The US military is preparing to pull all of its forces out of Syria by the end of April, according to a Wall Street Journal report published on Thursday, citing current and former US officials.

This follows a shock announcement in December by the US president that he would be withdrawing American forces from the country 'soon'.

But President Donald Trump has not detailed how the US will protect its Kurdish allies from attack once it has pulled out all its troops.

The Wall Street Journal report said the US and Turkey are formulating a plan for northeastern Syria in order to avoid clashes between Turkish and Kurdish forces in the region.

Lack of progress on the plan has worried Syrian Kurdish forces and others, who fear that Kurdish forces will be vulnerable to attack from Turkey after US withdrawal.

The planned pull out date has been revealed a day after Trump stated he expected the Islamic State group to lose all remaining territory in Syria in a week.

Trump, a longstanding skeptic on US foreign involvements, said in December that he was withdrawing the 2,000-strong US force from Syria and declared the defeat of IS.

The US envoy instrumental in building the coalition, Brett McGurk, resigned in protest over Trump's decision and voiced fears for Syria's future. European nations have also voiced concern about Trump's orders.

Turkey has been the most supportive of the US withdrawal and has threatened to attack Kurdish fighters battling IS, although the Trump administration has warned Ankara against an attack.

IS fighters first swept into Iraq and Syria in the summer of 2014, taking control of nearly a third of the country. At the height of the group's power its self-proclaimed caliphate stretched from the edges of Aleppo in Syria to just north of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.