USA begins withdrawal of troops from Syria as Trump declares IS defeated

Donald Trump 'orders immediate and full withdrawal of US troops from Syria'

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 USA partner forces in Syria, which Ankara considers part of a Kurdish terrorist group.

President Donald Trump tweeted that the Islamic State (IS) group - also known as ISIS - had been defeated in Syria, his "only reason for being there".

"The Pentagon has an order to get to move troops out of Syria as quickly as possible, " a US official said.

President Donald Trump said American forces were no longer needed in Syria, which has been torn apart by a long-running civil war.

"We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders confirmed in a statement later on Wednesday.

Trump has said since he was a presidential candidate, he wanted to bring back troops from the Middle East. The report also found a Defense Department official who believes that the president "wants to divert attention away from the series of legal challenges confronting him over the recent days: the Russian investigation run by the special counsel as well as the sentencing of his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, in a hush-money scandal to buy the silence of two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump".

The local administration and armed forces in northern Syria - US allies on the ground - have said their American partners have given them reassurances that they will remain until ISIS is defeated and the region is secured.

A decision to pull out completely, if confirmed, would upend assumptions about a longer-term USA military presence in Syria, which senior U.S. officials have advocated to help ensure ISIS can not reemerge.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning told CNN that, "at this time, we continue to work by, with and through our partners in the region".

Despite the move, US soldiers will continue to remain in Iraq and have the potential to launch strikes into Syria.

Donald Trump 'orders immediate and full withdrawal of US troops from Syria'
U.S. weighing complete withdrawal of troops from Syria

The stunning move will have extraordinary geopolitical ramifications and throws into question the fate of US-backed Kurdish fighters who have been tackling Islamic State.

"If we've learned one thing over the years, enduring defeat of a group like this means you can't just defeat their physical space and then leave", Brett McGurk, the administration's special envoy to for the global coalition to defeat ISIL, said on December 11.

Reports of a full USA military withdrawal drew immediate criticism, including from some of Trump's fellow Republicans.

Hajin, the group's last major stronghold in Syria, is close to being seized by US -backed SDF forces.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said a withdrawal would have "devastating consequences" for the U.S. in the region and throughout the world.

The United States, on Wednesday, announced that it has begun the complete withdrawal its contingent of 2,000 soldiers from Syria.

All State Department personnel are reportedly being evacuated from Syria within the next 24-hours. "You win the fight - and then you win the peace", Mattis said in April.

Asked how the decision would impact Trump's hand in UN-led talks, a source close to the USA administration told Al-Monitor it "would seem to weaken it".

United States troops have largely been stationed in the Kurdish region in northern Syria. 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. And my guess is that ISIS still has an influence in Syria.

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