US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US military from Syria amid Turkey’s operation against Kurdish forces in the northeast of the country. At the same time, the United States said it would remain in the oil-producing areas in the east of the country and would help local Kurds to control them.
Up to 600 US military staff will remain in Syria, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley told broadcaster ABC.
“Less than a thousand, somewhere around 500, maybe even 600,” Milley said when asked about the number of the US troops in Syria. “There are still Daesh* fighters in the region. And unless pressure is maintained, unless attention is maintained on that group, then there is a very real possibility that conditions could be set for a reemergence of Daesh,” Milley said, adding that “the footprint will be small, but the objective will remain the same: the enduring defeat of Daesh.”
American troops pulled back from several areas as Ankara launched its Operation Peace Spring on 9 October, commencing an offensive against Daesh terrorists and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Washington and the European Union slammed the decision, introducing sanctions against Ankara, but the Turkish government continued the operation in order to create a so-called safe zone near its territory in order to keep out the SDF, which it considers to be affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), banned in the country.
Kurdish forces had to withdraw from the Syria-Turkey border, later arranging a deal with Damascus, which subsequently bolstered its forces in the northern part of the country.
The crisis eased after Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to establish joint patrols on the border, while Moscow also vowed to ensure that the Kurdish-led forces would retreat from the Turkish border.