November 13, 2019 / 8:18 PM / a month ago

Pentagon's Esper sees Syria pullback taking another 'week or so'

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper looks on as he attends a NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium October 25, 2019. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington (Reuters) - The U.S. military pullback from the Kobani area in northeastern Syria near Turkey’s border should take “another week or so” to complete, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Wednesday, as the U.S. military repositions and reduces its forces in Syria.

Esper said that once the partial U.S. withdrawal was finished, the U.S. military would still have roughly around 600 troops in Syria, down from about 1,000 before Trump’s withdrawal order last month. Esper said the United States was still supporting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Turkey views as a terrorist group.

“We’re still partnering with the SDF. We’re still providing assistance to them,” Esper said, stressing the SDF’s role in helping prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State militant group.

Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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