U.S. Pullout in Syria Begins as Pompeo Tours Middle East

The United States has begun the withdrawal of its roughly two thousand troops in Syria, according to the U.S.-led coalition against the self-proclaimed Islamic State. The announcement came a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a major speech in Cairo (State Dept.) on U.S. strategy in the Middle East.

The coalition declined to provide specific timelines (NYT) for the withdrawal, as well as information on troop movements. Days earlier, National Security Advisor John Bolton said there would be conditions for a U.S. pullout (Al Jazeera) and that it could take months or years. In Egypt, Pompeo said the decision to return troops from Syria “isn’t a change of mission” and that the United States would “use diplomacy and work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot” from the country.


“Days after the national security advisor says the U.S. Syria exit is conditional, the same day the secretary of state publicly excoriates the 44th president for retreating from the Middle East, President Trump begins the U.S. retreat from the Middle East. This is an administration in disarray,” tweets CFR President Richard N. Haass.

“The area in northeast Syria where U.S. troops in Syria are deployed is highly coveted by Iran. It is rich in oil and is near the border with Iraq through which Iran has been sending into Syria its allied Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) militias under the pretext of fighting ISIS,” Lina Khatib writes for Time.

In Foreign Policy, CFR’s Steven A. Cook discusses Turkish plans for Syria after the U.S. withdrawal.