The United States is planning a full and rapid withdrawal from Syria, fulfilling one of President Trump’s stated goals of getting American troops out of areas where he sees no benefit with such commitment.
"We have defeated Isis in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” the US President tweeted cryptically on Wednesday morning, and the comment was followed up officials who said planning is underway to withdraw the 2000 or so US troops on the ground in Syria.
Just weeks ago, the US-led coalition had denied any pull out plans and said "Any reports indicating a change in the US position with respect…is false and designed to sow confusion and chaos."
But President Trump has evidently overruled his military, and according to some experts, given comfort to the Russia-Iran-Syria coalition who will see this as a victory even as Washington’s Kurdish allies see it as a betrayal.
Although US troops will continue to remain in Iraq with the capability of launching strikes into Syria, the immediate questions, particularly for India, is whether Trump will order a similar drawdown in Afghanistan.
The official White House readout on the withdrawal was qualified.
''We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign,'' spokesperson Sarah Sanders said.
''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, and any means of infiltrating our borders.''
Trump has largely espoused a non-interventionist policy on many fronts where previous administrations had committed US troops, flustering US generals who believe such withdrawals will dilute American security interests, and encourage the rebirth of groups such as al-Qaeda and Isis.
But there is also the possibility that Trump’s announcement in this matter is prompted by taking the headlines away from his legal woes.