On December 19, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced that the U.S. has started withdrawing its troops from Syria following President Donald Trump declared that ISIS has been defeated in the country.
“We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign … The United States and our allies stand ready to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests whenever necessary, and we will continue to work together to deny radical Islamist terrorists’ territory, funding, support and many means of infiltrating our borders,” Sanders said.
The White House didn’t reveal any further details about the matter. However, an official told the Reuters news agency that the U.S. plans to pull its forces out of the warn-torn country once the final stages of the last operation against ISIS is complete. According to the official, the time-frame for the troop pullout is expected to be between 60 to 100 days.
The official added All U.S. State Department personnel are being evacuated from Syria within 24 hours as a first step.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) confirmed that senior U.S. officials had informed the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which control northeastern Syria, of Trump’s decision. The UK-based monitoring group said that the SDF’s leader were “shocked” and considered the possible withdrawal of U.S. forces a “stab in the back.”
According to Reuters, the decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria was taken after a phone call between Trump and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan on December 18. This indicate that the SDF-held area, may soon witness a Turkish invasion.