Few hundred US troops to remain in Syria after withdrawal

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Pentagon’s Major Sean Robertson said the US will also maintain its presence in the garrison of Al Tanif in southern Syria to ensure Daesh will not return.

President Donald Trump announced a total withdrawal of US troops from Syria, declaring on December 19, 2018 they have succeeded in their mission to defeat Daesh and were no longer needed in the country.
President Donald Trump announced a total withdrawal of US troops from Syria, declaring on December 19, 2018 they have succeeded in their mission to defeat Daesh and were no longer needed in the country. (Reuters)

The Pentagon on Friday said the US will keep a few hundred troops in northeastern Syria to back an international coalition’s efforts to establish a safe zone.

Pentagon’s Major Sean Robertson said the US will also maintain its presence in the garrison of Al Tanif in southern Syria to ensure Daesh will not return.

“This multinational monitoring force will consist primarily of NATO allies, which will ensure stability in the region with US forces and prevent the return of Daesh.”

Robertson did not specify which countries would be part of the ‘multinational observation force,’ but said the US will withdraw the rest of its forces from the war-torn country.

He added that remaining troops would aim to ensure security and stability in the region.

Also on Friday, US President Donald Trump confirmed it by saying, “… we can leave a small force, along with others in the force, whether it’s NATO troops or whoever it might be, so that it doesn’t start up again. And I’m OK. It’s a very small, tiny fraction of the people we have and a lot of people like that idea and I’m open to ideas.”

Safe zone along Turkish border

Robertson said that troops will carry out patrols within the safe zone.

He did not comment on whether US soldiers will be withdrawn from Manbij, a town that is under YPG/PKK control.

A Pentagon official who spoke to AA said, “Turkish forces and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will not be involved in the safe zone.”

US support the YPG-dominated SDF is a point of contention between Ankara and Washington.

The YPG is the Syrian branch of the PKK, which is considered as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU.

Trump announced in December 2018 that the US would fully withdraw from Syria, but his decision was met by criticism from his own administration and US allies.

Europe reluctant to take back captured Daesh members

Last week, Trump said the US was asking European allies to “take back over 800” Daesh members captured in Syria and put them on trial.

Trump’s call came as he prepared to claim the fall of the final Daesh-held town in north-west Syria.

But as TRT World‘s Simon McGregor-Wood reports, European governments are unwilling to take them back.

Source: AA
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