Trump decision to leave 200 troops in Syria step to creating larger observer force

World Today

Syrian government officials refused to comment today on Washington’s decision to keep a small force in Syria after the withdrawing most U.S. troops from the country.

Damascus also didn’t comment on U.S. President Donald Trump’s December announcement that he would bring all 2,000 American troops home.

CGTN’s Alaa Ebrahim reports.

The remaining American presence could interfere with Turkish plans to drive out U.S.-backed Kurdish forces out of Northern Syria. Turkey considers the Kurdish militia terrorists.

The Kurds fear a U.S. withdrawal would unleash an all-out Turkish assault to create and control a buffer zone – free of Kurds – in northern Syria. At the same time, leaving behind a small force of US troops could lead to a more permanent presence of foreign troops in northern Syria, along with the mainly-Kurdish militias known as the SDF. Analysts speculate this could lead to a Syria partitioned along ethnic lines. 

Meanwhile, a convoy of around 40 trucks evacuated civilians from the town of Baghouz near the Iraqi border Friday. The SDF is reportedly preparing for a final push to take the town from ISIL. Baghouz is the radical group’s last stronghold in Syria.

But the evacuation was overshadowed by local newspaper reports, accusing the SDF of allowing militants a safe way to Iraq where they could regroup for future attacks. A spokesperson from the SDF denied these accounts, saying everyone leaving Baghouz is being screened.