'We have defeated ISIS in Syria': U.S. plans to withdraw troops


"We have started the process of returning USA troops home from Syria as we transition to the next phase of the campaign". Washington has provided almost $8.1 billion in assistance for people displaced since the crisis started, including 12.1 million people suffering in Syria and 5.6 million Syrian refugees in the region.

Still, President Donald Trump has previously expressed a strong desire to bring troops home from Syria when possible.

He tweeted: "We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency".

The troop pullout, which American officials earlier said they were considering, ends assumptions about the United States staying in the war-ravaged nation on a long-term basis.

Or download the Daily Star app for flash alerts on the biggest stories of the day. Elaborating in a Facebook video, Rubio said that "I know that all of us would view that as a positive step in terms of the ability to sort of bring our servicemen and women back from the Middle East in a place where they are now engaged".

The State Department is evacuating all of its personnel from Syria within 24 hours, a US official told Reuters. That process seeks changes to Syria's constitution and government and possibly President Bashar al-Assad's ouster.

The decision upends assumptions about a longer-term U.S. military presence in Syria, which U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other senior U.S. officials had advocated to help ensure Islamic State can not reemerge.

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Reports of an abrupt withdrawal drew quick criticism from Congress. Sen.

Syrian schoolchildren walk as US troops patrol near the Turkish border in Hasakah, Syria November 4, 2018.

Some 2,000 troops have helped rid much of north-eastern Syria of IS, but pockets of fighters remain.

Wednesday's report comes almost one week after seven mass graves containing hundreds of unidentified bodies were unearthed near the former ISIS stronghold of Albu Kamal in eastern Syria.

A USA withdrawal could open Trump up to criticism if Islamic State reemerged.

Iran and the Assad regime also have expressed their opposition to the presence of hundreds of the US troops in the southeastern part of the country close to the border with Iraq, citing the deployment as "illegal" and an "act of aggression".

The unexpected White House move comes as tensions increase sharply with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey, which has promised to launch a military offensive against the United States partner forces in Syria, which Ankara considers part of a Kurdish terrorist group.

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"At this time, we continue to work by, with and through our partners in the region", Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a short statement on Wednesday morning, the Times reported.

But the partnership between the United States and the Kurds has enraged neighbouring Turkey, which views Kurdish YPG forces - the main fighting force in the SDF - as an extension of a banned Kurdish group fighting for autonomy in Turkey.

Trump has previously lambasted his predecessor, Barack Obama, for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq that preceded an unraveling of the Iraqi armed forces. The group has no remaining territory in Iraq.

Just last week Turkey warned it was planning to launch an operation against US-backed Kurdish militias in northern Syria "in the next few days". The SDF also controls the districts of Manbij and Tabqah on the right bank of the river. "We were very successful against ISIS, we'll be successful against anyone militarily, but sometimes it's time to come home and we'll be thinking about that very seriously".

"The military objective is the enduring defeat of ISIS".

Around 2,000 USA troops are estimated to be on the ground in Syria, but the presence of the Islamic State is considered to be largely diminished.

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