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U.S. begins to pull forces from Syria, officials see full withdrawal

The United States said on Wednesday it has begun withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria as U.S. officials said the United States was considering pulling out all its troops as it winds up its campaign to retake territory once held by Islamic State.

“We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement issued after President Donald Trump tweeted that “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there.”

It was not immediately clear from Sanders’ statement whether all of the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops in the country would leave and if so, by when.

Sanders suggested that the United States would remain engaged to some degree.

“The United States and our allies stand ready to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests whenever necessary, and we will continue to work together to deny radical Islamist terrorists territory, funding, support,” she said.

A decision to pull out completely, if confirmed, would upend assumptions about a longer-term U.S. military presence in Syria, which senior U.S. officials have advocated to help ensure Islamic State cannot reemerge.

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