Photo Credit: US Army / Staff Sgt. Andrew Goedl
U.S. and Turkish military forces conduct the third ground combined joint patrol inside the security mechanism area in northeast Syria, Oct. 4, 2019.

Less than 24 hours after the White House announced a decision to withdrawn US military troops from northern Syria, American forces have already begun pulling back from areas along the border with Turkey, according to Kurdish-led forces and a war monitor quoted by AFP.

US soldiers have left their bases in Tal Abyad and Ras-Al-Ain, according to local Arab sources who were reporting via Twitter.

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Less than 24 hours earlier in what appeared to have been a sudden decision, the White House announced Sunday in its statement, “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria. The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial “Caliphate,” will no longer be in the immediate area.”

Israeli officials are watching the situation closely, as any destabilization that takes place anywhere in Syria — where military bases belonging to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrilla forces are also located — is bound to affect Israel’s security as well. The only force capable of countering such instability, also located in Syria, is that of Russia.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu placed a call to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Monday — ostensibly to wish him a “Happy Birthday” — but also probably to discuss the current situation in Syria with the Russian leader.

Putin congratulated Netanyahu on the [Jewish] New Year as well, and asked him to convey his greetings to the people of Israel.

Few details of their conversation were made public. But it’s clear that Israeli officials are becoming increasingly concerned about the situation on the nation’s borders.

This past weekend, the government Security Cabinet met for the first time since the elections. Very little information about the agenda, discussions and subsequent conclusions that emerged was released to the public, however.

“This conversation was … important for the security of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu told employees in describing his call with Putin at a toast for the New Year at the Prime Minister’s Office.

“We have major challenges around us but we also benefit from important cooperation and coordination with Russia. This is critical for us and we will continue to be engaged,” he added.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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