A senior administration official told reporters on Friday that the 400 troops to be left in Syria would be split between a group of about 200 to set up and maintain a safe zone currently being negotiated for northeast Syria, and 200 at the U.S. military base at al-Tanf.
The 200 troops based at al-Tanf, near the Syrian border with Iraq and Jordan, will stay “for the foreseeable future,” while the U.S. troops in the safe zone will be part of an expected 800 to 1,500 troops committed by European allies.
Robertson would not confirm Friday whether any European countries had committed troops to the safe zone.
Asked Friday if he was confident that allies would step up in such a role, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford simply replied, “I am.”
Trump later on Friday described his newest vision for a military presence in Syria.
“We can leave a small force, along with others in the force, whether it's NATO troops or whoever it might be, so that [ISIS] doesn't start up again,” he said. “And I'm OK, it's a very small, tiny fraction of the people we have. And a lot of people like that idea.”
He also hinted that the 1,600 troops to withdraw may be sent to other countries in the region, including Iraq, “where we have a very powerful base.” The Hill
A few thoughts about all that:
- The 200 soldiers left in the north as part of an international contingent will be there to act as a tripwire to keep the Turks with their armored army and strong air force from simply butchering the SDF Kurds whom the Turks regard as the enemies of their blood.
- The 200 at al-Tanf will remain in place for the purpose of blocking the shortest Damascus-Baghdad-Iran land route. This reflects the continuing policy of the US government of seeking regime change in Syria. This policy's effect is clear in the utterances of the Borg (foreign policy establishment) concerning the defeat of the IS caliphate and the other rebel; riff-raff around the country. How? Simple! If you listen to the Borg, you will easily be led to believe that the forces of the Syrian government have done very little to liberate their country. In fact the opposite is true.
- "A lot of people like that idea." I am sure that they do. Lindsay Graham has said and done a lot of good things since his office wife died but in the matter of Middle East policy he remains as goofy and conditioned by the Israelis as he and John John ever were. Do the Borgists think that they will slowly ratchet up the number of soldiers engaged in the "Syria Problem?" Yes, the Borgists and the generals are sure they can pull that off.
- One little problem for the Borgists and generals is the hard surface road that runs through Palmyra to Deir al-Zor to Abu Kamil to Baghdad and thence to Iran. Will the Iraqi government and militias allow the US to block that road as well? pl