Trump To Pull Troops From Syria Despite Pushback From Pentagon

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 11 : President Donald J. Trump debates with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., as Vice President Mike Pence listens during a meet... WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 11 : President Donald J. Trump debates with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., as Vice President Mike Pence listens during a meeting in the Oval Office of White House on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS
|
December 19, 2018 11:00 a.m.

President Donald Trump has reportedly decided to remove all 2,000 American troops from Syria, several news outlets reported Wednesday morning, citing unnamed U.S. officials.

The White House released a statement Wednesday morning following those reports declaring victory over the Islamic State in Syria and announcing that the U.S. has “started returning United States troops home.” However, the statement did not specify when the U.S. will completely eliminate its presence in Syria.

“Five years ago, ISIS was a very powerful and dangerous force in the Middle East, and now the United States has defeated the territorial caliphate. These victories over ISIS in Syria do not signal the end of the Global Coalition or its campaign. We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in the statement. “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 any means of infiltrating our borders.”

Trump has pushed for the withdrawal despite warnings from the Pentagon that it’s too early to completely eliminate American presence in the region. Officials at the Pentagon were still trying to talk Trump out of the withdrawal this week, according to the New York Times. Officials have told the President in meetings and calls recently that the move could expose the United States’ Kurdish allies in the region to attacks from Turkish troops and would allow Russia and Iran to have more influence over the region, per the New York Times.

Newsletters
Get TPM in your inbox, twice weekly.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Yet Trump seems hellbent on fulfilling a campaign promise, tweeting Wednesday morning that he had accomplished his goal of defeating the Islamic State.

While the Islamic State’s control in the region has been diminished, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said earlier this month that the U.S. still had a lot of work to do training Syrian forces to keep the Islamic State at bay, as the Wall Street Journal noted.

Trump’s reported decision to abruptly withdraw troops from Syria follows discussions with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has threatened to launch an offensive against the Kurdish troops who have been fighting alongside the U.S. Trump has argued that such an offensive would be a threat to the U.S., officials told the New York Times.

Latest News
Comments are now Members-Only

Non-members are still able to read comments, but will no longer be able to participate. To join the conversation, sign up now and get:

30% Off Annual Prime Membership

TPM strives to build as inclusive a community as financially possible. We offer FREE memberships to those experiencing financial hardship and FREE memberships for students.

View all options
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: