President Donald Trump declared victory in the mission to defeat Islamic State militants in Syria on Wednesday — and he’s bringing our troops home soon.
The Trump administration will soon withdraw all of the approximately 2,000 American troops from Syria, a U.S. officials declared. Planning for the pullout has begun and troops will begin leaving as soon as possible, said the official.
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On Wednesday, as Vice President Mike Pence met with top military leaders in the Pentagon, Trump tweeted —
We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
The decision will fulfill Trump’s long-stated goal of bringing troops home from Syria, but critics have pushed back, arguing that the ISIS group remains a threat and could regroup.
Trump has argued for the withdrawal since he was a presidential candidate. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who remains concerned about Iranian efforts in the area, reacted in noncommittal fashion after talking with Trump by telephone.
“This is, of course, an American decision,” he said. Israel will learn of the timetable and manner of withdrawal, he said, and no matter what “we will safeguard the security of Israel and protect ourselves from this arena.”
The withdrawal decision doesn’t signal an end to the American-led international coalition’s fight against the Islamic State, but it will likely erode U.S. leadership of a 31-nation effort.
The administration is preparing to host a meeting of coalition foreign ministers at the State Department early next year.
The U.S. first launched airstrikes against ISIS fighters in Syria in 2014. In the years that followed, the U.S. began partnering with Syrian ground forces to fight the radical Islamic terror group.
The Pentagon recently said that ISIS now controls just 1 percent of the territory it originally held.
The Associated Press contributed to this article