The announcement comes amid continuing criticism of the Trump policy toward Turkey.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday the last U.S. troops in Syria will be evacuated.
“I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria,” Esper told host Margaret Brennan on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
About 1,000 U.S. troops remain in harm’s way. Esper said: “It’ll be a deliberate withdrawal and we want to conduct it as safely and quickly as possible.”
Esper’s statement came as denunciations continued from both sides of the aisle in Washington over President Donald Trump’s decision to clear out of the way for a Turkish invasion of northern Syria, as well as indications that the opening stages of the invasion have allowed ISIS fighters to escape.
Turkey invaded northern Syria last week in pursuit of Kurdish forces, whom it regards as the enemy because of Kurdish hopes of forming its own country in territory that includes parts of Turkey. The Kurds had been fighting alongside U.S. troops in the battle against ISIS, but became vulnerable to Turkish attack when announced that U.S. forces would be moved out of the area, effectively giving Turkey the go-ahead to invade.
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