American troops will remain in Syria until the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group has been utterly defeated. According to US State Department Spokesperson David Satterfield, this is what US President Donald Trump told Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump has repeatedly said that the US troops will leave Syria soon. He claims that nearly the entire country has been purged of IS.
However, as the US Defense Department stated at the end of June, IS regiments still control roughly 5% of Syrian territory, chiefly in the Euphrates valley. Estimates place the number of remaining jihadist fighters at 14,000. The Guardian cites US Special Envoy Brett McGurk as saying that the American military and its allies are preparing for the concluding phase of the operation against IS.
Roughly 2,000 American troops are deployed in Syria in territory not controlled by the Bashar al-Assad government. They are fighting against IS as part of an international coalition. In February this year, according to various estimates, from a few dozen to as many as 200 Russian citizens were killed in a clash with the US military – mercenaries in the so-called Wagner Private Military Company.
Earlier on Friday, the US State Department said that Washington does not intend to finance the restoration of Syria until a political process “meriting trust” is started in the country under the auspices of the UN. Most of Syria is controlled by Moscow’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom the US accuses of war crimes.