ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - The United States was to pull out over 400 marines from northern Syria where they were supporting Kurdish-led units in the war against the Islamic State (IS) group, US army announced on Thursday.
With the last month capture of the de facto IS capital of Raqqa by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Marines' mission ended, and they have been ordered home, a US task force release said.
"The Marines supported Coalition partner forces with precise artillery strikes in the fight against ISIS in Raqqah, Syria. Its replacements have been called off," it read, using another acronym for the Islamist group.
"Four hundred Artillery Marines returning home from Syria after helping secure the defeat of ISIS terrorists in their former capital of Raqqa. Welcome home," American Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter IS, Brett McGurk, tweeted.
The Marines who used M777 howitzers were deployed for five months just outside the city, he added.
"Their mission was to deny and disrupt ISIS from gaining ground or moving from their defensive positions," said, Marine Artillery Lt. Col. Jon O’Gorman of the task force Operation Inherent Resolve.
The final phase of the months-long Battle of Raqqa began in early June with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) leading the SDF with air support from the Coalition.
The SDF lost hundreds of fighters, men and women, in the process while the IS casualties numbered over 1300.
American withdrawal of a portion of its troops comes at a time when Turkish pressure on Washington to halt arms shipments to the Kurds has increased.
However remaining US forces would continue "to work by, with and through partner forces to defeat remaining ISIS, prevent a re-emergence of ISIS," the US Brigade General Jonathan Braga said.
Editing by Sam A.