This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates as more information becomes available.
The U.S. military is preparing for a “full” and “rapid” withdrawal of more than 2,000 American service members in northeastern Syria, which would abruptly end the ground mission against ISIS there.
BREAKING NEWS: US preparing to withdraw all US forces from Northeastern Syria: https://t.co/foQw7chgVu
— Dion Nissenbaum (@DionNissenbaum) December 19, 2018
The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday morning, which said that U.S. officials have begun informing their partners in Syria of plans to immediately withdraw U.S. troops.
A defense official confirmed to CNN that plans are underway for a “full” and “rapid” withdrawal of U.S. troops.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) December 19, 2018
The official told CNN that the decision was rendered by President Donald Trump.
Trump administration considering full withdrawal of 2,000 American troops in Syria: U.S. officials confirm
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) December 19, 2018
There are approximately 2,000 U.S. service members in Syria who mainly help train local soldiers, including the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to fight against ISIS.
U.S. troops have been in Syria fighting ISIS for more than four years.
While Trump has said in the past that he would like to withdraw all troops from Syria, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said this fall that troops would remain in Syria to complete their mission of defeating ISIS so the terrorist group cannot mount a comeback.
“Our troops are there for that one purpose right now,” Mattis said in September. “We obviously have got to train up local security forces, so that ISIS and others … cannot get in. That’s part of the defeat of ISIS.”
In April, Mattis had said, “We do not want to simply pull out before the diplomats have won the peace. You win the fight — and then you win the peace,” Reuters reported Wednesday.
There are more than 5,000 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq, which neighbors Syria to the east.