- President Donald Trump announced Wednesday morning that the US has defeated ISIS, which he says was the only reason US troops are in Syria.
- His declaration of victory comes amid multiple reports, citing US officials, claiming that the Department of Defence has been ordered to “move troops out of Syria as quickly as possible.”
- The abrupt move comes just days after the US-led coalition in Syria stated that the “mission in northeast Syria remains unchanged.”
- The defence secretary and other senior defence officials have pushed for a persistent military presence in Syria to prevent the resurgence of ISIS, as well as the advancement of Russian, Iranian, and the Syrian regime interests.
President Donald Trump declared that the US has defeated ISIS in a tweet Wednesday as the US reportedly prepares to pull all 2,000 troops out of Syria.
“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” Trump tweeted.
The president’s tweet comes amid multiple reports, attributed to US officials, that the Trump administration is preparing to rapidly withdrawal US troops from Syria.
The move contradicts a statement released by the US-led coalition just a few days ago stressing that the “mission in northeast Syria remains unchanged.”
“We remain committed to working with our partners on the ground to ensure an enduring defeat of ISIS,” the coalition statement explained on Saturday. “Any reports indicating a change in the U.S. position with respect to these efforts is false and designed to sow confusion and chaos.”
Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis and other senior defence officials have advocated for a long-term military presence in Syria to prevent the resurgence of ISIS, which could still have as many as 30,000 fighters in Syria and Iraq.
US-backed forces in Syria claimed over the weekend to have taken control of the last ISIS-occupied town, but they added that there is still work to be done. “There are still villages to be taken,” the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) explained.
The Department of Defence said in an emailed statement Wednesday that “at this time, we continue to work by, with and through our partners in the region,” with the key phrase being “at this time.” The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that US officials have already begun informing their partners of US plans to leave northeastern Syria.
“The Pentagon has an order to move troops out of Syria as quickly as possible,” US officials told TheWSJ.
The decision to withdraw troops from Syria was reportedly made by the president, who has long expressed a desire to pull troops out of the war-torn country, a move that critics suggest would advance the interests of Russia, Iran, and the Syrian regime.