U.S. contingent to remain in Syria after delayed withdrawal

by WorldTribune Staff, February 22, 2019

The U.S. will maintain a “small peacekeeping group” of 200 troops in Syria following the withdrawal of most its forces from the country, the White House said on Feb. 21.

U.S. forces in Manbij, Syria. / U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy R. Koster

U.S.-backed forces on Feb. 22 began to evacuate civilians from Baghouz, the last enclave of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria, AFP reported.

Any Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) victory in Baghouz would accelerate an expected withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria which President Donald Trump announced in December.

Army Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, said recently that the United States is likely “just weeks away” from starting the withdrawal of ground troops from Syria.

“A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Feb. 21.

Trump announced in December that he was withdrawing troops from Syria. The move allegedly led to the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy to the coalition to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS).

Trump had initially called for a 30-day timeframe to complete the pullout, but after meeting with South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, agreed to delay completion of the withdrawal.

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