Dec 19, 2018

Trump administration to "transition" U.S. troops from Syria

The Trump administration has "started returning" U.S. troops from Syria after a determination that it has "defeated the territorial caliphate" of the Islamic State, or ISIS, according to a statement from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. She added that the country stands "ready to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests whenever necessary."

The big picture: Sanders' announcement comes after multiple media outlets reported that President Trump decided to pull all U.S. troops from Syria and the president tweeted that defeating ISIS was "the only reason" to have U.S. troops on the ground. More than 2,000 American military personnel are currently there. Leaving Syria after ISIS' defeat has previously been championed by Trump. He issued a surprise announcement back in March — much to the chagrin of many of his closest aides and later publicly softened — that U.S. personnel would leave the country "very soon."

Sanders' full statement:

"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. 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."
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