The US President Donald Trump has agreed to leave about 400 troops in Syria, nearly two months after his December’s announcement to fully withdraw 2,000 American forces from the civil-war-torn country.
On Friday, Trump told reporters that he will leave about 400 troops in Syria, to be split between the north-eastern part of the country, while the other 200 will be stationed in the southeast.
“A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time,” the Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement on Thursday.
The update came after a phone call between Trump and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Both leaders agreed to carry out the US’ withdrawal from Syria in a manner that serves the mutual interest, and to cooperate in order to create a safe zone in the country.
In December last year, Trump abruptly decided to immediately withdraw 2,000 US forces from Syria, declaring that the Islamic State (IS) was “already beaten”. The US President afterwards backtracked his decision, giving the US military four months to pull out the troops.
Trump’s announcement came as a surprise for the US senior officials, and was criticised by the Republicans who view the decision as a “huge mistake.” In a statement, Sen Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was among the first Republicans to denounce Trump’s decree. Graham said that the US withdrawal “is a big win for the IS, Iran, Al-Assad of Syria, and Russia.”