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400 “Blue Helmets” Must Remain in Syria: WH

WASHINGTON – The White House (WH) has clarified its plans for US forces in Syria, saying it would leave 400 troops in the war-torn country a day after announcing that the number of “peace keepers” would be 200, Reuters reported Saturday.
On February 22, a White House official confirmed the revised figure and announced that he would be based in the Tanf garrison in northeastern Syria.
The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said on February 21 that a “peacekeeping” group of about 200 soldiers would remain in Syria for a “period of time”.
There was no immediate explanation for the revised troop figure.
The Kurdish and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) welcomed the US decision to keep military personnel in northern Syria as a “positive” sign, saying it could encourage other members of the US-led coalition to maintain their forces in the country.
On February 22, President Donald Trump denied that his decision to leave troops in Syria was a withdrawal from a previous commitment to withdraw all US forces from the country.
“I do not change course,” Trump told the White House, adding that the remaining number was “a tiny fraction” of the original US force in Syria.
In December, Trump surprised US lawmakers and international allies by announcing his intention to withdraw the 2,000 US troops from Syria. The president said that the troops were no longer necessary, claiming that the insurgents of the Islamic State (IS) had been defeated.
Trump has been criticized by Republicans, Democrats and some foreign officials for what they called a hasty withdrawal of troops, with some saying he leaves Kurdish allies at the mercy of the Turks and gives a victory to Russia and Iran.
Ankara accuses Kurdish fighters in Syria of having links with Kurdish separatists operating in Turkey.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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