WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military says it has started pulling equipment, but not troops, out of Syria.

Defense officials said Friday that the withdrawal of equipment marks the start of a process that has been in the works since President Donald Trump announced in mid-December that the Islamic State group had been defeated in Syria and he wants U.S. troops to come home.

The pullout of troops is expected to begin in coming weeks and last for months. The U.S. has about 2,000 troops in Syria.

Friday's announcement fueled concern about how quickly the U.S. will abandon its Kurdish allies, amid contradictory statements recently by administration officials on an exit timetable. The White House says the U.S. will keep up pressure on the Islamic State group wherever it exists.

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