The U.S. is planning a “full” withdrawal of troops from Syria, a government official told reporters on Wednesday.
The Pentagon and White House declined to comment on the matter, though President Donald Trump reportedly authorized the decision, which fits with his campaign promise to withdrawing from the region as soon as possible.
Here’s what Trump said in his latest tweet:
We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
Estimates vary as to how many ISIS fighters are left in Syria. In the town of Hajin, the terror group’s last redoubt, the coalition estimated some 2,000 ISIS fighters were present. But a Defense Department inspector general report put the number of ISIS members in Syria and Iraq as high as 30,000.
Reuters notes that the U.S. would still have a significant military presence in Middle East if it withdraws from Syria, given the 5,200 troops stationed in Iraq. A withdrawal could raise questions about how the U.S. will handle Syria’s ongoing civil war.
The withdrawal appears to come with objections from U.S. military. Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said recently that the U.S. needed to train local fighters to “ensure a lasting defeat of the terror group,” per CNN.
UPDATE: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement on the news.
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) December 19, 2018
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