U.S. to leave 200 American peacekeepers in Syria after pullout -White House

by Reuters
Thursday, 21 February 2019 23:28 GMT

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WASHINGTON, Feb 21 (Reuters) - The United States will leave "a small peacekeeping group" of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a U.S. pullout, the White House said on Thursday.

President Donald Trump in December ordered a withdrawal of the 2,000 American troops in Syria on the defeat of the last remnants of the Islamic State militancy there.

But he has been under pressure from some advisers to adjust his policy to ensure the protection of Kurdish forces who supported the fight against Islamic State and who might now be threatened by Turkey.

"A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a brief statement.

The decision was announced after Trump spoke by phone to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

A White House statement said that the two leaders agreed, regarding Syria, to "continue coordinating on the creation of a potential safe zone."

They noted that acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford would be hosting their Turkish counterparts in Washington this week for further talks, the White House said.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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