Published: Tue, March 19, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

US could keep almost 1000 troops in Syria

US could keep almost 1000 troops in Syria

Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Joseph Dunford says the U.S. continues to conduct military planning with Turkey to address Turkish security concerns along the border with Syria.

Trump's initial decision to remove the roughly 2,000 troops prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis and criticism from bipartisan lawmakers who accused the president of pulling out before ISIS had been defeated.

The larger troop contingent is a nod toward the ability of ISIS to regroup, the report said, adding that United States officials estimate that up to 20,000 armed fighters of the extremist group are spread out around the world, including many in sleeper cells in Iraq and Syria.

The president soon backtracked, telling the commander of US forces in Iraq and Syria that he could have several months to pull 2,000 troops out of Syria.

US troops remaining in Syria is at odds with US President Donald Trump's announcement in December of a full troop withdrawal.

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'We are also conducting planning with other members of the Coalition who have indicated an intent to support the transition phase of operations into Syria'. Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member, views the Kurdish combatants as terrorists, and the Europeans fear they would be vulnerable if Ankara launched an offensive.

Meanwhile, Washington plans to withdraw hundreds of American forces when "the last bastion of Islamic State (IS) is seized", a move that will be in accord with Trump's original plan, according to the report. But an unknown number of militants and civilians remain inside, refusing to surrender.

Underscoring the struggles faced by the SDF as they try to flush the out extremists, three ISIS fighters emerged from Baghouz on Friday acting as though they wanted to surrender only to blew themselves up, killing six people.

The report highlighted that the 1,000 troops would be stationed across Syria.

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