The United States has completed its military withdrawal in northeastern Syria, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said. He told Reuters late Wednesday that around 600 troops will remain in the rest of the country for the foreseeable future after they were removed from the northeast. There’s been uncertainty surrounding the U.S. military presence in Syria after President Donald Trump’s shock withdrawal order in October. Since that order, troop levels in Syria have plummeted from 1,000 to around 600. “It will be relatively static around that number. But if we see things happen... I can dial up a little bit,” Esper said. The defense secretary also suggested more U.S. troops could leave Syria if allies volunteered more soldiers. “If an allied country, a NATO country, decided to give us 50 people, I might be able to turn off 50 people,” said Esper. At the NATO gathering in London, Trump said he wanted remaining U.S. forces to make sure Syria’s oil reserves don’t fall back into the hands of ISIS.
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