President Trump has continued to back away from his announced total US withdrawal from Syria this week, with administration officials on Thursday and Friday confirming that they now intend to keep 400 troops in Syria indefinitely after the pullout.
The US is estimated to have 2,000 troops in Syria presently, which Trump announced were all being withdrawn, as of late last year. On Thursday, officials indicated that 200 troops will stay to be part of an international stabilization force.
By Friday morning, however, the drawdown was cut back even further, with officials saying that in addition to the 200 troops already announced to be staying, a further 200 troops would remain at al-Tanf base on the Syrian border with Jordan and Iraq.
Hawkish Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) declared that the US troops will be confronting Iran, fighting ISIS, and protecting the Kurds from Turkey. The Tanf base troops seem likely in particular to be targeting Iran.
The US had previously tried and failed to convince Britain and France to stay while they left Syria, and it may ultimately be that this shift is intended to keep the Western European nations involved in the war.
This is an updated version of a previous story from Thursday night. That version only included the 200 troops staying in northern Syria, and not the extra 200.