US Official Says There Are No Plans To Withdraw from Syria

The US has about 900 troops in eastern Syria and backs the Kurdish SDF, allowing the US to control and occupy about one-third of the country

A State Department official has told Rudaw that the US has no plans to withdraw its troops from Syria.

The US has about 900 troops in eastern Syria and backs the Kurdish-led SDF, allowing Washington to control and occupy about one-third of the country’s territory.

The US claims the occupation is about fighting ISIS remnants, but the continued US presence is more about keeping Damascus and its ally Iran out of the area and controlling oil resources. The occupation is also part of the economic campaign against government-controlled Syria, which includes crippling sanctions that are specifically designed to prevent the country’s reconstruction.

Ethan A. Goldrich, assistant deputy secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, said the US wouldn’t leave Syria until its “mission” was completed, referring to the anti-ISIS operations.

“We are not planning to withdraw from Syria. We are planning to continue and complete our mission to prevent a resurgence of ISIS and to counter ISIS and to work with our partners,” Goldrich told Rudaw on Wednesday.

Goldrich also said the US occupation was about “holding the regime accountable,” referring to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He also reiterated US opposition to regional countries normalizing with Damascus, as Arab nations have accepted that Assad isn’t going anywhere and are re-establishing relations with the Syrian leader.

Earlier this year, reports suggested that the US was considering a Syria withdrawal, but the SDF later said it received assurances from the US that its forces were there to stay. The US also began talks with Iraq about a potential withdrawal this year, but there’s no sign of any progress in that direction.

The US has about 2,500 troops in Iraq that support the US occupation of Syria. Troops in both countries serve as a potential tripwire for a wider war amid regional escalations that are a result of Israel’s onslaught in Gaza.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.