The United States is preparing to rapidly withdraw all 2,000 troops in northeastern Syria as soon as Kurdish and Arab forces drive ISIS from its last enclave, multiple media outlets reported on Wednesday.
- Top Trump administration officials decided on Tuesday that all U.S. troops would leave Syria, according to the Washington Post, which cited an unnamed defense official. The Wall Street Journal was first to report on the troop withdrawal.
- President Donald Trump tweeted on Wednesday that the U.S. military’s mission in Syria has been accomplished: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”
- The Pentagon was characteristically tight-lipped about a decision affecting thousands of U.S. troops in harm’s way.
- “At this time, we continue to work by, with and through our partners in the region,” Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Robert Manning said in a statement on Wednesday.
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- In August, Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters that U.S. troops would remain in Syria until diplomatic efforts to peacefully end that country’s civil war showed progress.
- “We need the Geneva process, the U.N.-recognized process to start making traction towards solving this war,” Mattis told reporters at an Aug. 28 news briefing. “Now, if the locals are able to keep the security, obviously during this time we might be reducing our troops commensurate with their ability to deny ISIS a return, but it really comes down to finding a way to solve this problem of [Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s] making.”
- News about the pending departure of all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria comes amid signs of a wider rapprochement between the United States and Turkey, which views Syrian Kurdish fighters as terrorists.
- The Defense Department has notified Congress that it has approved the sale of Patriot missiles to Turkey, which had been flirting with buying Russian S-400 missiles, and President Trump has told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that he will consider extraditing cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Erdoğan blames for a 2016 coup.
SEE ALSO: US Military Says It Can’t Take Out Remaining ISIS Fighters Because They’re Hiding In Tunnels
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