Eli Ridder | Report
The United States will withdrawal all 2,000 of its troops from Syria, the White House confirmed on Wednesday, in what is considered a direct shift in U.S. foreign policy.
We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
There has been no statement yet from the Canadian government, but there likely will be an update from Ottawa as Canada, along with other U.S. allies, are in Syria to advise and assist local forces against so-called Islamic State.
“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, citing the low numbers of remaining IS fighters in Syria.
Mr. Trump has long wanted to bring U.S. troops home from Syria, a deployment that occurred under former President Barack Obama in 2014, a move the current president had strongly criticized.
The time frame for the U.S. withdrawal is expected to be between 60 to 100 days, a U.S. official told Reuters news agency, and U.S. officials will start leaving the war-torn country over the next 24 hours.
A withdrawal marks a major policy shift from previous U.S. foreign policy in the region. Washington previously said it considered the Syrian deployment important for security.
Operation Inherent Resolve is made up of an international coalition that includes Canada, France, Australia currently, but has featured other countries in the past–and in different roles.
Canada was formally involved in the airstrikes with six CF-18’s, but pulled out of that role when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau followed through on a campaign promise from the 2015 federal election.
Canadian special forces and training officials are still active in Syria, assisting SDF operatives against Islamic militants.
The United States will continue to maintain armed forces in neighbouring Iraq, who have the capability to launch air and artillery strikes into Syria, but the withdrawal will be viewed as a win from Syria, Iran and Russia.
The some 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria are working to train local forces, such as the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, and have had success in pushing Islamic State forces into a severely minimized state.
The last stand town of IS in Hajin, the international coalition estimated that there were about 2,000 fighters present, with the U.S. Defense Department estimating that there area about 30,000 in Syria and Iraq, CNN reported.
Trump has launched two major attacks in Syria, hammering the country in both 2017 and 2018, in response to what the U.S. said was chemical attacks against civilians.
If the United States were to leave Syria, there would be a scramble for control from groups like the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, and Russia would become a more dominant force in the area.
There are unconfirmed reports that the Syrian Army is going to launch an offensive to take control of the areas under the current control of the SDF in the northeast when the United States leaves the country.
Turkey has been warning it will attack the Syrian Kurdish forces. Ankara considers the Kurdish forces tied to militants in southeast Turkey, a connection the Syrian Kurds and international allies deny.
More details to follow. Image of U.S. troops in Iraq from CENTCOM.