President Donald Trump has begun withdrawing troops from Syria, claiming victory in the war against the Islamic State, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Wednesday.
“We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign,” Sanders declared. “The United States and our allies stand ready to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests whenever necessary, and we will continue to work together to deny radical Islamist terrorists territory, funding, support, and any means of infiltrating our borders.”
Trump seemingly confirmed the report in a Wednesday morning tweet. (Related: Trump: ‘Mission Accomplished’ In Syria Strikes)
We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
“The Coalition has liberated the ISIS-held territory, but the campaign against ISIS is not over,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said Wednesday. “We have started the process of returning U.S. troops home from Syria as we transition to the next phase of the campaign. For force protection and operational security reasons we will not provide further details. We will continue working with our partners and allies to defeat ISIS wherever it operates.”
Trump has long wanted to withdraw troops from Syria, saying in April, “I want to get out” at a press conference, adding “I want to bring our troops back home.” The president reluctantly agreed to pleas from Secretary of Defense James Mattis to continue the mission after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons once again against his own populace.