The U.S. military has plans to keep 1,000 troops in Syria, a change that comes months after President Donald Trump called for a complete withdrawal, according to The Wall Street Journal.
But mulitple media outlets, including Fox News and CNN are reporting that Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford is calling the report "factually incorrect." Dunford says "no change" is being made to troop numbers.
Trump’s December 19 surprise announcement that American forces would leave Syria “now” ran into stiff opposition among members of his own party and led to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis.
The president soon backtracked, telling the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria that he could have several months to pull 2,000 troops out of Syria. He later scrapped his plan altogether and said the U.S. would keep 200 peacekeepers in Syria for a period of time, then upped it to 400.
The WSJ's report said that number is now 1,000 because of concerns about Islamic State’s “ability to regroup.”
A Stars and Stripes report Sunday said U.S.-backed forces were facing difficulties recapturing ISIS’ last outpost in Syria, citing mines, explosive devices, tunnels and hideouts.
“We well understand that an American military presence — and the numbers and functions can go up and down — is a force for stability and collective security in the region,” James Jeffrey, the top U.S. diplomat overseeing the global campaign against Islamic State, said Friday, per the WSJ.
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