When US special forces were ordered to pull out of Syria in October 2019 the Pentagon had to activate emergency plans to evacuate its troops. Tim Ripley looks at the airlift mission to extract American soldiers from Syria.
On a grassy plain in northwest Syria a column of US Army mine-protected vehicles was lined up beside a rough airstrip waiting to be loaded into the cavernous hold of a US Air Force C-17A airlifter from Air Mobility Command (AMC). Behind the vehicles, a gaggle of forklift trucks could be seen preparing cargo pallets and ISO containers for loading. Overhead a pair of US Army AH-64D attack helicopters was circling the airstrip to monitor the movement of civilian vehicles on the roads that passed to the south. Operation Break Glass was under way.