In December 2018, Trump declared the withdrawal of all American troops from Syria. On February 22nd, a bi-partisan group of Congress members wrote Trump expressing the following:
“We support a small American stabilizing force in Syria, which includes a small contingent of American troops and ground forces from our European allies, is essential to insure stability and prevent the return of ISIS”
Trump response was that he “100%” agrees and “ALL is being done”, contradicting his prior statements of complete withdrawal from Syria. He signed and returned the letter with the response to the bi-partisan group of congress members.
White House Press Secretary Sanders states that about 200 U.S. soldiers will remain as a “peace-keeping” group. The goal of leaving these forces is to prevent ISIS from regaining power in the region. However, some U.S. military officials have suggested this force could be double that.
History of U.S. Involvement
The U.S. has been present in Syria since September 2014. The presence began when former President Barack Obama started an air attack campaign against ISIS. Since then, the U.S. has launched air strikes at 17,000 locations in Syria, under both Obama and Trump. The height of American presence in Syria involved around 2,000 troops.
Trump’s Previous Statements on Syria
Trump made various statements in his campaign of pulling out of Syria. He often Tweeted that the U.S. no longer wants to be the “world police”. However, reports of Syrian chemical attacks in 2018 led to delay of the inital withdrawal plans.
Now, it appears that the U.S. presence in Syria under Trump will simply be reduced, rather than fully withdrawn.
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