President Donald Trump is considering a proposal to leave about 200 American troops in eastern Syria to combat ISIS and prevent Syrian government forces and their Russian allies from seizing control of oil production facilities in the region, reports The New York Times.
The report follows comments by Trump’s Pentagon chief that all the U.S. troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq and continue operations against the Islamic State group. Defense Secretary Mark Esper earlier Sunday said the mission for those troops would be to “help defend Iraq” and “perform a counter-ISIS mission.”
Trump also shared a quote from Esper that said, “The ceasefire is holding up very nicely. There are some minor skirmishes that have ended quickly. New areas being resettled with the Kurds.”
On Monday, Esper confirmed that the idea of leaving some troops in Syria was being considered by the Trump administration.
The U.S. and Turkey last Thursday entered an agreement to temporarily suspend Ankara’s invasion into northern Syria in order to allow Kurdish YPG fighters to withdraw from a designated safe zone along the Turkish and Syrian border.
Trump has faced continued criticism for his decision to withdraw U.S. troops who had been protecting Kurdish areas out of the way of Turkish advance.
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