0733 GMT March 19, 2019
“A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for period of time,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a one-sentence statement, AP reported.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who had harshly criticized Donald Trump’s decision to pull US forces out of Syria, applauded the president’s decision to leave a few hundred as part of an “international stabilizing force.”
Trump’s decision to pull 2,000 US troops from Syria, which he initially said would be rapid but later slowed down, shocked US allies and angered the Kurds in Syria. It also prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and drew criticism in Congress.
It’s unclear where the 200 remaining US troops will be stationed.
The US military has a limited network of bases inside Syria. Troops work mostly out of small camps in remote parts of the country’s northeast.
Also, US troops are among 200 to 300 coalition troops at a garrison in southern Syria known as Al-Tanf, where they train local armed forces. Al-Tanf is on a vital road linking Syrian forces all the way to southern Lebanon.
Trump spoke Thursday with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“On Syria, the two presidents agreed to continue coordinating on the creation of a potential safe zone,” the White House said in a statement about the call.
The White House also said acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford will be hosting their Turkish counterparts in Washington this week for further talks.