4 things to know about Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria

Dec 20, 2018, 01:48
4 things to know about Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria

Trump said on Twitter: "We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency".

"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 terrorist territory, funding, support, and any means of infiltrating our borders", she said in the statement.

Defense Secretary Mattis never wavered on continuing the Obama administration's short-sighted "only ISIS" strategy in Syria.

The immediate withdrawal of US forces flies in the face of the Syria policy that has been outlined repeatedly by senior USA officials over the past several months.

There are about 2,000 USA troops in eastern Syria advising and assisting the Kurdish led Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against ISIS.

The White House has ordered the Pentagon to pull US troops from Syria immediately, a USA defense official confirmed to CBS News correspondent David Martin.

Islamic State declared its so-called "caliphate" in 2014 after seizing large swathes of Syria and Iraq.

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Mr. Trump has vowed to bring USA forces home from Syria as soon as the fight against the Islamic State was over.

There is no timeline yet for the pace of the withdrawal, the official said.

The withdrawal plans leave major questions for an alliance of USA -backed Kurdish and Arab militias, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, which has provided key aid for US forces in the fight against the Islamic State.

"The decision to remove US forces from Syria should not be a shock", said Harry J. Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest.

James Jeffrey, the United States special representative on Syria, later clarified that the continued USA role would not necessarily be military.

In late March, Trump said US forces would be leaving Syria "very soon".

"What we are trying to read here are the internal machinations of the White House and the Pentagon".

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"Last week in Northeast Syria, one thought struck me when it came to the battle against the so-called Islamic State: If the ISIS fight is over, no one has told ISIS", Lemmon wrote in her essay.

Jennifer Cafarella, a Syria expert at the Institute for the Study of War, said the withdrawal is likely to create new problems.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., issued a statement likening the pending removal of the 2,000 USA troops stationed in Syria to President Barack Obama's 2011 withdrawal from Iraq and the subsequent rise of the Islamic State, calling it "a huge Obama-like mistake". A USA withdrawal, Graham wrote, "will also be seen by Iran and other bad actors as a sign of American weakness in the efforts to contain Iranian expansion". He will certainly face an enormous amount of pushback from within his administration and without (all those #NeverTrump conservatives probably disagree with him on foreign policy more than any other policy topic). "I think anyone who has looked at a conflict like this would agree with that".

Casting himself as showing more resolve than Obama, Trump ordered 59 cruise missiles to strike a Syrian air base.

Reports of a full United States military withdrawal drew immediate criticism, including from some of Mr Trump's fellow Republicans. But the decision underscores the division between him and his military advisers, who have said in recent weeks that pockets of IS militants remain and USA policy has been to keep troops in place until the extremists are eradicated.

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