US confirms American troop pull-out from northeast Syria

US confirms American troop pull-out from northeast Syria
Trump's decision to pull US troops away from Turkey border areas has been hugely controversial.
2 min read
05 December, 2019
The US has reduced its force in Syria by 40 percent [Getty]

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper has said that all American troops have been withdrawn from northeast Syria, months after Turkey launched an offensive into the area to establish a buffer zone against Kurdish militias.

Speaking to Reuters, Esper said that the US could bring in small numbers of troops to the country if the situation arises, but the size of the force is likely to remain steady.

"It will be relatively static around that number. But if we see things happen... I can dial up a little bit," Esper said late Wednesday.

There were around 1,000 US troops in Syria before President Donald Trump ordered a withdrawal of the American force from borders areas as Turkey launched an offensive against Kurdish militias.

Current troop levels are around 600, although the numbers of American troops could change if more US allies contribute personnel.

"The coalition is talking a lot again. We could see some allies want to volunteer troops," Esper said.

"If an allied country, a NATO country, decided to give us 50 people, I might be able to turn off 50 people."

US troops are currently guardian oil installations in eastern Syria, while another force is based in the Al-Tanf region in the south, close to the Iraq and Jordan borders.

They were tasked with fighting the Islamic State group but have since been viewed as a buttress against Iranian expansion in the south.

The US played a key role in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria from 2014, with the battle for Kobane, supporting Kurdish-led forces with air cover.

The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) have complained of being betrayed by the US, after American troops were pulled out of the area in October, paving the way for a Turkish offensive.

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