White House joins Dunford in refuting report of Syria withdrawal plan change

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-19 10:37:55|Editor: Xiaoxia
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WASHINGTON, March 18 (Xinhua) -- The White House National Security Council spokesperson Garrett Marquis on Monday joined the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in refuting an earlier media report that Washington consider keeping some 1,000 troops in Syria.

Retweeting an earlier statement of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford that dismissed the report, Marquis criticized "terrible reporting by multiple outlets on this false claim."

"Good for Gen. Dunford for setting the record straight on Syria troop withdrawal," he said.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that the U.S. military is mulling about leaving up to 1,000 troops in Syria.

The troops will be deployed from northern Syria to the south, continuing to work with Kurdish fighters, further drifting away from President Donald Trump's original plan of a total withdrawal, according to the report.

CNN also quoted a U.S. official as saying on Sunday that the U.S. plan "was to have a combined force of about 1,500 troops overall to ensure the safe zone in northern Syria."

The U.S. planning would be informed "based on how many allies have pledged contributions," CNN reported. "To date, there have been no firm pledges from allies, meaning the U.S. level would have to go up."

However, Gen. Dunford responded in a statement that The Wall Street Journal report "is factually incorrect."

"There has been no change to the plan announced in February and we continue to implement the President's direction to draw down U.S. forces to a residual presence," he said. "Further, we continue to conduct detailed military planning with the Turkish General Staff to address Turkish security concerns along the Turkey-Syria border. Planning to date has been productive and we have an initial concept that will be refined in the coming days."

Currently, there are about 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria.

On Feb. 21, the White House announced that the United States would leave about 200 troops in Syria after the planned pullout.

U.S. media later reported that the U.S. military would leave about 400 troops in two different regions of Syria.

Declaring victory over the Islamic State, Trump last December announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, leading to the resignation of then U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis.