U.S. military mission in Syria coming to "rapid end": White House

Updated 2018-04-05 11:13:04 Xinhua

The White House said on Wednesday that the U.S. military mission to fight against the extremist group Islamic State (IS) in Syria is coming to "a rapid end" amid speculations of possible quick U.S. troop withdrawal from the war-torn country.

"The military mission to eradicate ISIS (IS) in Syria is coming to a rapid end, with ISIS being almost completely destroyed," said the White House in a statement.

"The United States and our partners remain committed to eliminating the small ISIS presence in Syria that our forces have not already eradicated," the statement added.

U.S. President Donald Trump has recently reiterated his intention of bringing American troops back from Syria, claiming that the costly U.S. military presence in the Middle East has brought "nothing, except death and destruction."

Hours ahead of the White House announcement, Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, told reporters that a decision concerning the future of U.S. military presence in Syria had been made at an "all hands on deck" meeting on Tuesday of top U.S. national security officials.

In the meeting, Trump has agreed to maintain the troops there a little longer but was unwilling to back a long-term commitment, a senior Trump administration official told reporters on Wednesday on the condition of anonymity.

The White House will make the decision public soon, Coats added.

Despite of Trump's eagerness for a quick retreat, the Pentagon and the U.S. State Department have voiced view that a much longer-term effort is necessary to fully defeat the militant group.

"We are in Syria to fight ISIS," said Brett McGurk, special presidential envoy for the U.S.-led coalition to defeat the IS, at a public event in Washington on Tuesday. "That is our mission and that mission isn't over and we are going to complete that mission."

The United States has been aiding a military campaign in Syria which had taken back much of the territory once occupied by the militant group.

So far, there were around 2,000 U.S. troops remaining in Syria.

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