The United States has defeated the Islamic State group in Syria, US President Donald Trump claimed on Wednesday, adding that it was the only reason he kept troops in the country. Earlier there were reports that the US military, in a stunning reversal of policy, was considering a total withdrawal of its some 2,000 troops from the Middle Eastern country.
Taking to Twitter, Trump confirmed the news, upending the assumptions about a longer-term US military presence in Syria. Earlier, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other senior officials had pitched for a long-term US military presence to ensure Islamic State cannot reemerge in the country.
"We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency," Trump wrote on Twitter.
We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
It's been a quite long time that Trump has been expressing a strong desire to bring troops home from Syria, while the US State Department officials have fretted about leaving Syria, keeping in mind the country’s brutal civil war, which has claimed thousands of innocent lives in the past.
The deliberations came at a time when Ankara has threatened to launch an operation against the Kurdish militia, known as the YPG (Kurdish People's Protection Units) in Syria. In a situation like this, the Pentagon, however, has not confirmed the US troop pullout from the country and promised to continue its work in the region.
"At this time, we continue to work by, with and through our partners in the region," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said.
In Syria, IS fighters are holding out in what remains of the pocket that once included Hajin, including the villages of Al-Shaafa and Sousa. 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.