The United States bombed its own airbase in northeast Syria’s Al-Hasakah province before withdrawing troops, according to local media reports. A Syrian Arab News Agency report claimed that the military base, which had landing facilities for transport aircraft, was blown up by the US troops before abandoning it. The military base was located at Tal Baydar settlement near Tal Tamr town, where Turkish Army is fighting an intense battle with US-backed Kurdish forces.
Earlier this week, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper had said that all US troops will leave Syria and go to western Iraq but maintained that the American military’s fight against the Islamic State group will continue. Esper also didn't rule out the possibility that US troops will carry out counterterrorism operations into Syria from Iraq.
The developments made clear that one of President Donald Trump's rationales for withdrawing troops from Syria was not going to come to pass any time soon. "It's time to bring our soldiers back home," Trump said Wednesday.
They are not coming home, although Trump tweeted Sunday: "USA soldiers are not in combat or ceasefire zones" and "Bringing soldiers home!" As Esper left Washington on Saturday, US troops were continuing to pull out of northern Syria after Turkey's invasion into the border region.
Reports of sporadic clashes continued between Turkish-backed fighters and the US-allied Syria Kurdish forces despite a five-day cease-fire agreement hammered out Thursday between US and Turkish leaders. Turkey's defense ministry said one soldier has been killed amid sporadic clashes with Kurdish fighters.
Trump ordered the bulk of the approximately 1,000 US troops in Syria to withdraw after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it clear in a phone call that his forces were about to invade Syria to push back Kurdish forces that Turkey considers terrorists. The pullout largely abandons America's Kurdish allies who have fought IS alongside U.S. troops for several years. Between 200 and 300 U.S. troops will remain at the southern Syrian outpost of Al-Tanf.
(With inputs from PTI)