OThe Address | Benghazi – Libya
WASHINGTON – The United States is considering a total withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria as it nears the very end of its campaign to retake all of the territory once held by ISIS, U.S. officials told Reuters on Wednesday.
Such a decision, if confirmed, would upend assumptions about a longer-term U.S. military presence in Syria, which U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other senior U.S. officials had advocated to help ensure ISIS cannot reemerge.
Two U.S. officials said a decision to withdraw had already been reached but that could not be immediately confirmed. It was unclear how soon a decision detailing any withdrawal plans might be announced.
The Pentagon declined to comment, saying only that it continued to work with partners in the region.
However, U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to declare victory against the group and made clear he saw no further grounds for remaining in Syria.
“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” he tweeted.
We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
The United States still has about 2,000 troops in Syria, many of them special operations forces working closely with an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF.