US quickly pulling out troops from Syria as Trump says IS defeated

The United States will withdraw its troops from Syria, a US official told AFP on Wednesday, after President Donald Trump said America has “defeated ISIS” in the war-ravaged country.[In surprise move, White House confirms soldiers have begun leaving country; president declares destroying Islamic State was only reason for being there.
US Troops in Syria

The stunning move will have extraordinary geopolitical ramifications and could fuel Israeli concerns that its enemies — primarily Iran — could gain a further foothold in the neighboring country through its various proxies.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” the Republican president tweeted, referring to the Islamic State group.

Currently, about 2,000 US forces are in Syria, most of them on a train-and-advise mission to support local forces fighting IS. The official would not provide a timeline for a withdrawal, saying only: “We will ensure force protection is adequately maintained, but as quickly as possible.”

The United States will withdraw its troops from Syria, a US official told AFP on Wednesday, after President Donald Trump said America has “defeated ISIS” in the war-ravaged country. The stunning move will have extraordinary geopolitical ramifications and could fuel Israeli concerns that its enemies — primarily Iran — could gain a further foothold in the neighboring country through its various proxies.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” the Republican president tweeted, referring to the Islamic State group.

Currently, about 2,000 US forces are in Syria, most of them on a train-and-advise mission to support local forces fighting IS. The official would not provide a timeline for a withdrawal, saying only: “We will ensure force protection is adequately maintained, but as quickly as possible.”

Responding to the reports, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders appeared to confirm a pullout. “Five years ago, ISIS was a very powerful and dangerous force in the Middle East, and now the United States has defeated the territorial caliphate. These victories over ISIS in Syria do not signal the end of the Global Coalition or its campaign. We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign,” she said.

“The United States and our allies stand ready to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests whenever necessary, and we will continue to work together to deny radical Islamist terrorists territory, funding, support, and any means of infiltrating our borders,” she added.

The Pentagon would not confirm the US troop pull-out. “At this time, we continue to work by, with and through our partners in the region,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said. Most US forces are stationed in northern Syria, though a small contingent is based at a garrison in Al-Tanaf, near the Jordanian and Iraqi border.

A large contingent of the main US-backed, anti-IS fighting force in Syria, an alliance known as the Syrian Democratic forces (SDF), is Kurdish and is viewed by Turkey as a “terrorist” group.

People familiar with the matter said that US officials have been telling allies in northeastern Syria that they plan to begin an immediate pullout, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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