- ‘We have defeated ISIS in Syria’ declared President Trump
- Said fight against the terror group was the ‘only reason’ for being there
- The U.S. intervened years ago in part to protect rebels who were under assault from the Assad regime and counter terror insurgents
- Russia soon stepped up its own air campaign there and remains as a regional power
- Move likely to please Turkish president Erdogan, who wants to counter U.S. allied Kurdish forces in Syria
- Move comes as Russia is establishing permanent military presence
‘We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,’ the president wrote on Twitter.
His declaration came after the Wall Street Journal and other outlets quoted Pentagon officials saying the U.S. would soon begin pulling out remaining forces, which number about 2,000.
‘The Pentagon has an order to get to move troops out of Syria as quickly as possible,’ a U.S. official told the paper.
The move is likely to please Turkish president Recep Erdogan, who wants to counter U.S. allied Kurdish forces in Syria and who spoke with Trump by telephone last week. He has been threatening an assault on U.S. allied Kurdish forces, who have been effective in helping to combat ISIS.
As the U.S. is preparing to pack up, Russia is moving in. After carrying out a fight in Syria billed as an anti-terror campaign but also buttressing Assad, Russia has begun building a permanent military presence, Reuters reported, quoting the Russian defense minister. The Russian parliament ratified a deal with Damascus on the permanent presence, the RIA news agency reported.