Trump changes his mind, won't to pull all US troops out of Syria

In latest shift, the president has decided to keep a 400-strong contingent in the country

After US President Trump was going to pull all 2,000 American troops out of Syria immediately, he said he was going to delay the withdrawal for a while. Then he promised to leave troops in neighboring Iraq. And now, in the latest shift, Trump reversed one of the biggest decisions of his presidency, agreeing to leave about 400 troops in Syria - 200 reportedly in a multinational force in the northeastern part of the country and another 200 at a small outpost in the southeast, where they will seek to counter Iran’s influence throughout the country.

President’s latest decision, however, swirled questions since on Thursday White House's speaker Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement that “a small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time.” Yet, according to officials, quoted by NYT, these US troops will not be peacekeepers, but instead "observers and monitors" in northern Syria, in the "safe zone" on the Turkish-Syrian border controlled by Kurdish allies of the US who have led the ground war against ISIS. They would also be part of a "multinational observer force" numbering between 800 and 1,500, mostly European NATO allies, including France and Britain, but they would be only monitoring the region, despite being combat-ready. Meanwhile, another 200 will stay at the outpost in al-Tanf, in Syria’s southeast, near its border with Iraq and Jordan, to counter Iran and support US forces in Iraq.

But the latest change of mind of the US, should come as no surprise. Especially since the Pentagon’s negotiations to put together a stabilisation and monitoring force were foundering on European resistance. More precisely European allies refused to send their troops in Syria to replace those of the United States. Now Trump hopes that his decision to leave 400 troops will be enough to persuade skeptical European leaders. Whether he would succeed, however, is not yet clear.

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