The White House said Thursday that “a small peacekeeping group of about 200” U.S. troops will stay in Syria beyond the planned withdrawal of American forces this spring.
An announcement by press secretary Sarah Sanders did not specify where the troops would be based, what their responsibilities would be, or how long they would stay, beyond “a period of time.”
A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss details not yet made public, said that the 200 would be “split down the middle” between Syrian Kurdish-controlled areas in the northeast of the country, and the Tanf garrison in southeast Syria. The official said the total might rise slightly.
The decision was a partial reversal of President Donald Trump’s order, announced in December, that all 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria would leave, since their mission to destroy the Islamic State caliphate had been achieved. Complete withdrawal was expected by the end of April.