President Trump may not be pulling the United States military presence out of Syria—something he repeatedly promised that he would do.
Previously, Trump said the continuing military struggle in Syria was over as ISIS had been completely defeated. Trump said any continuing presence in the country was needless, costly, and unfair to those young men and women who were being deployed there.
The Wall Street Journal reports the Trump Administration is keeping nearly 1,000 troops in the country: “The U.S. military is crafting plans to keep nearly 1,000 forces in Syria, U.S. officials said, a shift that comes three months after President Trump ordered a complete withdrawal and is far more than the White House originally intended.”
And, from the Washington Examiner:
In December, Trump declared victory over the Islamic State and said all of the approximately 2,000 troops stationed in Syria would soon be on their way back home. But according to a Sunday report from the Wall Street Journal, those plans have drastically changed. The U.S. troops that remain will continue to partner with Kurdish fighters, despite Turkish opposition.
Conversations between the U.S., Turkey, Kurdish fighters, and European allies have yet to yield a clear framework on how the U.S. withdrawal would work. Negotiations between the sides have come to no agreement on the creation of a safe zone in northeastern Syria, part of the administration’s plan for leaving the region.
President Trump has routinely criticized the continued U.S. military presence in several regions of the Middle East.
“I inherited a total mess in Syria and Afghanistan, the ‘Endless Wars’ of unlimited spending and death. During my campaign I said, very strongly, that these wars must finally end. We spend $50 Billion a year in Afghanistan and have hit them so hard that we are now talking peace after 18 long years,” Trump tweeted last month.
He continued: “Syria was loaded with ISIS until I came along. We will soon have destroyed 100% of the Caliphate, but will be watching them closely. It is now time to start coming home and, after many years, spending our money wisely. Certain people must get smart!”
“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” Trump tweeted in December 2018.
In the same month, Trump posted a video message to Twitter where he said: “Our boys, our young women, our men, they’re all coming back and they’re coming back now. We won.”
After historic victories against ISIS, it’s time to bring our great young people home! pic.twitter.com/xoNjFzQFTp
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
Per the Washington Post:
The decision also delivers on the president’s repeated threat this year to pull out troops. Since before taking office, Trump has promised to conclude the campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and questioned the value of costly and dangerous military missions overseas.
Administration officials characterized Trump’s order as a response to the fact the Islamic State, which once ruled a vast swath across Iraq and Syria, had all but been defeated.
“We have started the process of returning U.S. troops home from Syria as we transition to the next phase of the campaign,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement. “We will continue working with our partners and allies to defeat ISIS wherever it operates.”
The Washington Examiner reports Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, denied the Wall Street Journal report and said the United States looks to continue withdrawing all troops from the country, although a detailed plan has not yet been agreed to.
“A claim reported this evening by a major U.S. newspaper that the U.S. military is developing plans to keep nearly 1,000 U.S. troops in Syria is factually incorrect,” the general reportedly said. “There has been no change to the plan announced in February and we continue to implement the President’s direction to draw down U.S. forces to a residual presence.”