US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats says Washington has made its “decision” on the status of US troops in Syria after calls by President Donald Trump for the removal of American forces from the Muslim country.
“I can’t go into the details of what was decided on yesterday with our national security team and with the president, but there will be released a statement shortly relative to the decision that was made on that topic,” Coats told reporters at a gathering of the Defense Writers Group in Washington Wednesday morning.
In a statement released by the White House the “decision” was not referenced and no timeline was offered for possible withdrawal of US troops from the war-ravaged country.
“The military mission to eradicate ISIS in Syria is coming to a rapid end, with ISIS being almost completely destroyed,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in the statement. “The United States and our partners remain committed to eliminating the small ISIS presence in Syria that our forces have not already eradicated. We will continue to consult with our allies and friends regarding future plans. We expect countries in the region and beyond, plus the United Nations, to work toward peace and ensure that ISIS never re-emerges.”
During a joint White House press conference with the leaders of the Baltic States on Tuesday, Trump said he is interested in withdrawal of the US army forces from Syria.
A US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be terrorist targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
According to Brett McGurk, the State Department’s special envoy for the stated fight against Daesh, the counter-ISIL mission “isn’t over” and “we’re going to complete that mission.”