Monday, 24 June 2019

United States plans complete withdrawal of troops from Syria

(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

WASHINGTON: The IS has been “beaten” in Syria, US President Donald Trump said Wednesday in announcing a stunning order to pull American ground forces from the war-ravaged nation.

The momentous decision to withdraw, which runs counter to long-established US policy for Syria and the region, blindsided lawmakers, the Pentagon and international allies alike.

“We´ve won against ISIS,” Trump said in a short video posted on Twitter.

“We´ve beaten them and we´ve beaten them badly. We´ve taken back the land. And now it´s time for our troops to come back home.”

A withdrawal could have extraordinary geopolitical ramifications, and plunges into uncertainty the fate of US-backed Kurdish fighters who have been tackling IS, thousands of whom are thought to remain in Syria.

A US official told AFP that Trump´s decision was finalized Tuesday.

“Full withdrawal, all means all,” the official said when asked if the troops would be pulled from across Syria.

Currently, about 2,000 US forces are in the country, most of them on a train-and-advise mission to support local forces fighting IS.

Pentagon officials scrambled for a reaction after Trump earlier tweeted that IS had been “defeated.” A spokeswoman eventually said the Defense Department had “started the process” of bringing troops home.

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