On Wednesday morning, Donald Trump announced via Twitter that the United States has triumphed over ISIS in Syria. According to the Hill, this update comes after outlets like the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal separately reported that Trump is getting ready to pull over 2,000 U.S. soldiers from Syria.
This move should come as no surprise as Trump has long indicated his intention to get the United States out of Syria. Reports indicate that the withdrawal is already underway in Syria and will progress rapidly.
The United States will still have troops in Syria after the withdrawal, but their numbers and capabilities will be severely diminished. However, ground troops will be removed from the country as soon as is feasibly possible.
The U.S. military has been working with local forces to fight ISIS for some time. Recently, troops had hoped to push ISIS out of the Middle Euphrates River Valley in Syria, which would have struck a serious blow against the terrorist organization. It is the last major town held under ISIS control. Thanks to the efforts of U.S. troops and the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, ISIS has lost most of its footholds in the area.
Experts are unsure as to exactly how many ISIS members remain in Syria at this time. The town of Hajin, which is one of their last safe spaces, is estimated to have roughly 2,000 ISIS fighters. However, another report indicates that the number of ISIS members throughout Syria and Iraq could be as high as 30,000
We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
Although reports indicate that the withdrawal is already underway, the Pentagon has been less direct than Trump was on Twitter. When asked if they truly intended to bring all the troops home and leave Syria, officials were hesitant to comment.
“At this time, we continue to work by, with and through our partners in the region,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning told reporters in a statement.
But despite the sudden withdrawal, it looks like this move has been a long time coming. Back in April of this year, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats indicated that a decision had been made regarding the status of troops in Syria. At the time, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to clarify if that meant the soldiers would be returning home.
Although it looks like the military withdrawal is in full effect, it by no means signifies the end of the ISIS situation in Syria. Just two weeks ago, special envoy Brett McGurk told reporters that there was a long, hard road ahead of them before ISIS is truly defeated.
“Nobody is declaring mission accomplished,” he said.