The White House has said on Thursday, it has planned to leave around 200 American troops in Syria, signing a partial strategic withdrawal from the United States President Donald Trump’s announcement made in last year’s December to withdraw all 2,000 stationed US forces from Syria.
According to Al-Jazeera news reports, the move was a concession to Pentagon officials and allies who have once argued that a full withdrawal of troops will pose a risk returning main areas in Syria to the Islamic State.
In a statement, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said: “A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time.”
The development was made after the US president holds a telephonic conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The White House statement said both the leaders agreed to “continue coordinating on the creation of a potential safe zone.”
Turkey seeks to set up a safe zone with logistical support from its allied and said it should be cleared of US-backed Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey consider it as a “terrorist” organization.
A senior Trump administration official said it was still unclear about how long the 200 American troops would be stationed there to remain in the area or where the place they are being deployed.
Leaving a small group of American troops in Syria could pave a way for the European allies to commit to the deployment of hundreds of troops in order to help set up and further observe the potential safe zone in northeastern Syria.
The senior administration official told Reuters news agency: “This is a clear direction to our allies and coalition members that we will be on the ground in some capacity.”